When a bird flies into your window, the sound can be as loud and unexpected as an explosion. Unfortunately, glass windows are like mirrors to passing birds. They reflect the sky and edible foliage that is naturally going to invite birds in. However, with 100 million birds believed to be killed by windows each year[i], this illusion is a nightmare for bird populations. Fortunately, though, there are several things you can do to help protect birds in your garden. So, whether you’re trying to welcome birds into your garden or have had one too many window collisions, here’s how to stop birds flying into windows to make your garden a completely safe haven.
Why Do Birds Fly into Windows?
If you want to stop birds flying into windows, you need to know why they do it! Although birds are extremely clever animals (they’ve been proven to communicate between one another and solve problems, plus they have fantastic memories[ii]), they don’t recognise glass as a solid surface. Because of this, window collisions usually occur because birds spot reflections in windows and can’t tell that these aren’t actually real objects. For example, reflected clouds can seem like a safe flight path, or reflected feeders may look like an easy source of food.
However, windows may also reflect other birds and, in some cases, pursuing predators. In this occurrence, birds can become confused and agitated because it seems as though the area on the other side of the glass is safer. When birds become panicked – for example, if they see an unruly reflection or they are being pursued – it makes them even more likely to collide with a window, even if the glass has been made more visible for them.
How To Stop Birds Flying into Windows
Birds primarily fly into windows because they can’t decipher what is a reflection in glass and what is a solid object. Fortunately, there are several ways you can help them recognise that your windows are, in fact, windows. Here are our top tips to help you understand how to stop birds flying into windows.
Move Your Bird Feeders
Often, birds will be so focused on getting to a feeder, whether it be a reflection or not, that they may not register much else. By moving your bird feeders over 30 feet away from any windows, you can help birds recognise that the window is part of your house. On the other hand, you can place feeders between 3 – 5 feet from windows if you’d like, as this means any potential collisions are less likely to be fatal.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, window feeders that you can attach to the glass are actually the perfect solution for window collisions. An attached feeder will show the bird that there is a solid surface there, but will also reduce the risk of any severe collisions as it goes in to land on the feeder.
Stick On Window Alerts
Window alerts are a decorative way of deterring window collisions. These shaped stickers are almost invisible to the human eye, but they reflect ultraviolet light to create a bright warning to any oncoming birds. Perfect for large structures, like conservatories and glass doors, as well as windows, these stickers will break up a bird’s line of sight and help them determine that there’s a structure in their flight path, thus significantly reducing the number of window collisions.
Use Bird Netting
Bird netting is a form of pest control that stops wild birds from getting to certain spots. For garden birds, you should only need a small mesh net to stop the birds getting entangled. Since they are best used on open spaces, you can hang your bird net about 3 inches from the outside of the window. This way, the netting will provide a strong enough barrier for birds to simply bounce off of when they collide.
You can also use mosquito screens for this purpose, as both work in an almost identical way. Although, to keep the bird’s best interests at the forefront, choose netting or screening that contains polypropylene materials, since these are lightweight and durable.
Install A Transparent Film
It’s because glass is clear and colourless that birds can’t see it. You can remedy this with a one-way transparent film over the outside of your window. These window covers allow you to clearly see through the window from the inside, but not the outside, giving the glass an opaque look. Plus, the transparent film will reduce the amount reflective sunlight that enters your window.
Add An Awning
An awning is the perfect solution for both the birds and yourself, since it will block out the reflection of sunlight and also keep your home cooler on warm days. Adding an awning or sun shade will minimise the transparency of your window. This means that birds won’t be able to catch any reflections in the glass, allowing them to ignore your windows.
What To Do When A Bird Hits Your Window
It can be quite alarming when a bird hits your window, and the sound is enough to make you want to help the poor creature. However, a bird hitting the window may not be as harmful as it sounds. In many cases, the bird will be just fine. On the other hand, some times the collision can be detrimental. Here’s what you should do when a bird hits your window.
1. Locate The Bird
If the collision was only minor, a bird is likely to fly away or at the very least move away from the window. On the other hand, the accident may have stunned the bird. If this is the case, it will likely be underneath the window or very close by. The bird may also be showing no signs of movement or alertness.
2. Watch For Any Reactions
It’s important that you observe the bird closely before handling it. Often, stunned birds will remain where they are quietly as they recover, sometimes with their wings slightly drooping. So, if the bird is in a safe place, it shouldn’t require moving. But, if the bird is thrashing about or completely unconscious, it likely needs help.
3. Check The Bird For Injuries
If the bird is completely unconscious or thrashing about, carefully pick it up (we’d recommend you wear gloves when doing so) and check for any visible signs of injury. Keep your eyes out for things like cuts, unusually drooping wings, loss of feathers or discharge from the bill. If you spot any signs of severe injury, you should get in touch with the RSPCA or one of their wildlife rehabilitators immediately.
4. Put The Bird In A Safe Place
If the bird shows no signs of serious injury, it is likely that it is simply stunned. In this case, you’ll want to keep it in a safe, sheltered place out of the path of predators. Ideally, this should be as close to the collision area as possible so as not to confuse the bird. However, if the space is not safe from predators or foot traffic, you can gently put the bird in a box or paper bag. The box or bag should be big enough for a bird to be able to stretch its wings. If you’d like, you can line it with clean rags or newspaper. Ensure that the container has plenty of air circulation – though it should be slightly closed to keep the bird safe – and place it in a dark, quiet, warm area to let the bird recover.
5. Allow The Bird To Recover
The recovery time of a bird after a window collision greatly depends on the severity of the impact. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to three hours for a bird to fully recover. During its recovery time, though, it’s vital that you touch and move the bird as little as possible. Don’t poke the bird to try and get it to move, and don’t open the container to try and check on it. Simply leave the bird alone, and listen for signs of movement. This is the best sign of recovery.
However, if the bird doesn’t seem to have recovered at all after 2 or 3 hours, you should get it to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible, even if there are no signs of injury.
6. Release The Bird
Once the bird has begun to move and is showing good signs of recovery, you can release it back into its natural habitat. Take the container back to the collision area so the bird can get its bearings, and gently open the box or bag. Usually, the bird will fly out quickly, but it may take a few moments for it to adjust to its surroundings. If it’s unsafe to release the bird back in that area, release it in a similar habitat where it has access to safe sources of food, water and shelter.
Stopping Birds from Flying into Windows for Good
Although it may not seem like a big deal if the odd bird runs into your window, the fact is that window collisions harm and kill more birds than many of us know. But, armed with the knowledge of how to stop birds flying into windows and what to do when a bird hits your window, you should be able to take care of any bird collisions that occur in your garden.
Do you have any interesting ways of stopping birds flying into windows? Let us know your tricks in the comments.
Gemma Sharp is the resident writer for Love Garden Birds, a supplier of premium bird food and accessories. She has had a genuine love for our feathered friends from a young age, and has dedicated a lot of her time to learning all there is to know about them. If you’re struggling to pick the right bird feed for your garden, need help identifying a type of wild bird, or can’t decide where to put a nesting box, Gemma is the person to go to! She is passionate about sharing her years of learnt knowledge with the public. In her free time, she can be found feeding birds at home with her three young boys.