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Simple Window Treatments to Stop Residential Bird Strikes

Canada warbler, credit: Robert McCaw

Canada warbler, credit: Robert McCaw

In one month last fall, I heard the heartbreaking thud of six birds hitting windows at my home. I care about birds, so I decided to do something.

The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) estimates that 100 million to 1 billion North American birds are killed annually in collisions with windows. Residential homes are the biggest hazard. They kill or injure more songbirds than all other buildings combined.

It’s easy to think that the windows in your home don’t kill birds if you never see or hear the strike. Well, I know mine do. I have found the lifeless bodies of woodpeckers, chickadees and various songbirds lying below my windows. These deaths are avoidable and it’s time I stopped them.

FLAP has a number of suggestions for making the windows in your home safe for birds. The objective is to break up the reflection in the glass so birds aren’t deceived into thinking they can fly through it. After researching a number of options, I decided to go with a simple, do-it-yourself window treatment offered through the Acopian BirdSavers website: the zen wind curtains.

Window with zen curtains, credit: Denice Wilkins

Window with zen curtains, credit: Denice Wilkins

Using the instructions offered on Acopian’s ‘make your own’ webpage, I got to work on constructing some zen wind curtains for my home. They have been hanging for several weeks now and in that time no birds have hit my windows.

The Acopian BirdSavers website is run by a ‘family of engineers and naturalists’ who are as concerned about birds as I am. They suggest that if you hang cords at regular intervals along the width of your window and down to the bottom of the glass, you will achieve a 90-100% reduction in bird collisions.

How do you know if your windows are a danger for birds? Look at them from the outside. If they reflect the sky or surrounding vegetation, or if you can see your houseplants inside, they have the potential to be deadly.

Windows that reflect trees are a danger, credit: Denice Wilkins

Windows that reflect trees are a danger, credit: Denice Wilkins

Now when I look out to my yard, I focus beyond the cords and feel good about helping our feathered friends. I know that some beautiful bird who has survived our harsh Ontario winter, or who has arrived after migrating thousands of miles, will not meet its death at my home. And I have a great conversation piece when friends stop by for a visit.

In making my bird saver window treatments I wrote detailed plans complete with photos to make it easier for others to make their own. I would be happy to email the plans to you for free. Please contact me at denicejohn@live.ca. You can make a difference!


By Denice Wilkins
Environmental Officer and Publicity
Quinte Field Naturalists

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1 Comment

  1. B. Fields

    Hello, My new windows reflected an imaginary flight path of far greater length than the out side property. I tried loose window screening with no success and then I criss crossed thin strips of duct tape on the out side of the windows… both not good looking.
    My almost perfect idea was to draw diagonal criss-cross lines on the outsides of the top 1/4 of the windows with permanent black sharpie marker. It works so well that the birds only try to land on the lines once. They figure out fast that it is not a fence. No more injured or dead birds. Yah!

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