Are Our Feathered Friends Safe Around Windows?


Photo by Bryan Hanson on Unsplash

Making Your Windows Safe for Birds

An average of over one million birds per day are killed by collisions with glass man-made structures in the United States. Birds don’t recognize transparent or reflective windows as obstacles and therefore crash into them all too often. However, there is some good news for the birds of Harford County. The recently passed Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act of 2019 now requires all GSA state-funded projects to include bird-safe features where practically possible — including down-shielded lights to reduce disorientating nighttime light pollution. You can also do your bit to make Harford County safer for both resident and migratory birds by making bird-friendly changes to your own home.

Transparent window alternatives

Bird-safe alternatives to transparent glass windows include stained, frosted, and opaque glass, which are all visible to birds. A simpler option is applying one-way privacy film to your windows; it looks opaque on the outside but allows you to see out. Applying ultraviolet-reflecting patterns to windows is another way to help birds avoid accidents. UV is highly visible to certain species namely, songbirds and gulls. It’s therefore best to choose a strongly contrasting ultraviolet pattern, so it’s visible to the widest number of birds and therefore prevents as many collisions as possible.

Screens and netting

Typically used to keep bugs out, installing exterior window screens is the least expensive and simplest way to prevent bird collisions. Some screens can be remotely controlled to adjust the levels of bird and sun protection provided throughout the day. Another option is invisible netting. Both screens and netting should be positioned at least three inches away from the windows, so birds simply bounce off them without hitting the window.

Thoughtful lighting

Most species of birds migrate overnight and can become easily attracted to and disoriented by bright city lights. Unable to navigate their way out of the city, birds end up hitting windows or fainting from exhaustion. The problem becomes even worse if they’re flying in low-visibility conditions. Additionally, it’s better to use low-intensity white strobe lighting over rotating or red lights, as birds are drawn to the latter.

You can also position replica models of birds of prey (like falcons, hawks, or owls) around your exterior home to scare birds away. Ultimately, protecting birds isn’t just important for their well-being and survival. Making these changes to your home also ensures birds can continue to play their vital role in the wider ecosystem as a whole.  

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