by Marsha Rakestraw

You’ve felt that sickening sensation. You hear a loud thunk against your window and see feathers floating. If you’re lucky, the bird who hit your window is only stunned, rather than dead.

While accurate figures on bird strikes in the U.S. are elusive, a recent study estimates bird-building mortality rates across the country at around 365-988 million each year.

On a broader level, we can lobby buildings and cities to use bird-friendly building materials and practices; but we can have the most direct impact with our own homes.

Most birds strike windows because they see the unbroken reflection and think that it’s safe for them to fly. Sometimes predators chase them into trying to escape … right into a window. And fall migration brings a lot of young birds who have no experience with human-made structures. These individuals are especially vulnerable to window strikes.

Here are a few strategies to try to help decrease bird strikes:

  • If your windows allow it, put up window screens. They help reduce reflection and give the birds a bit of something to bounce off.
  • Put special plastic clings on your windows. They reflect UV light, which birds can see, but humans can’t.
  • Use BirdTape, soap, or similar products to break up the reflection on your windows.
  • Experiment with closing window shades or curtains to help reduce reflection.
  • Move bird feeders closer to your house (3-6 feet) to reduce the impact force of any strikes.
  • Grow trees and shrubs around your house for cover. It provides shade for your home and protection for the birds, who are less likely to whack into your window from a shorter distance.

If a bird does hit your window and she’s only stunned, you can carefully pick her up, place her in a paper bag, clip the top of the bag so she can’t escape, and bring her inside some place warm and undisturbed for about 30 minutes (or less, if you hear her moving around in the bag).

Once she’s had time to rest and recover, take the bag outside to an area away from your house, and slowly open the bag away from your body. Usually birds will fly right out and away.

We humans unthinkingly create numerous obstacles and dangers for other beings. But there’s a lot we can do to minimize harmful effects.

Taking a few minutes to reduce bird strikes is one way we can help our wild neighbors.