“Has a bird ever hit a window at your house?” Kids’ hands shoot into the air and they eagerly stumble over each other’s stories of tragedy and valor involving bird window strikes.
Teton Conservation District staff members Morgan Graham and Phoebe Coburn spent the last two days teaching nearly 250 local fourth graders about bird window strikes at the Wildlife Expo, a field day involving ten stations centered around what kids can do to protect wildlife.
An estimated 365 to 988 million birds are killed annually by building collisions in the U.S. Over 99% of those mortalities occur at residences and low-rises. Though hard to measure, the average house kills between one and ten birds annually because birds don’t perceive windows as barriers. Glass reflects the sky and vegetation, making it look like familiar habitat to a bird. In other cases, glass looks completely transparent to a bird; think of a glass skywalk or a glass handrail on a balcony. In certain light, glass can also look black, just like a small gap in vegetation that a bird might fly through.
“What do you think you could do to prevent window strikes?” The kids are thoughtful for a brief moment and then shout out answers about putting tape, stickers, and curtains over windows. The kids wrapped up the lesson by creating their own original window artwork to prevent bird strikes.
You can mitigate bird window strikes with low expense preventative measures like decals or your own custom artwork, or pursue more expensive but permanent solutions like textured or patterned glass. Here are a few tips:
Apply decals or artwork on the outside of windows. Birds will fly through spaces smaller than the average handprint. Therefore, decals and tape are most effective when placed within four inches of each other across the span of the window.
Install textured glass, window film, facades, string, netting, screens, grilles, shutters, or exterior shades on windows.
Be aware that indoor house plants may look like habitat to a bird from the outside.
When planting and maintaining trees and bushes around your home, consider how they might create or block reflections in windows.
Many birds migrate at night and lights can disorient them and lure them towards urban areas. Turn off your outside lights at night and close your curtains, especially during the migration seasons from late August to mid-November, and from mid-March to mid-June. Plus, turning off unnecessary lighting saves electricity too!
If a bird is stunned after hitting a window, leave it alone and give it space to recover. Keep cats, dogs, kids and other things that could be a threat—or be seen as a threat—away from the bird. If you find an injured raptor, call the Teton Raptor Center at (307)203-2551.
If you have questions about solutions for your property, contact Teton Conservation District’s Wildlife Specialist, Morgan Graham, at (307)733-2110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.