Today’s Solutions: May 29, 2024

In 1990, Michael Mesure was on the way to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Among his passengers was a common yellowthroat, a colorful warbler that had collided with a window. Mesure’s heart fell as he saw the tiny bird struggle for survival. Despite the pain, an unexpected moment of beauty occurred. As Mesure drove, the yellowthroat perched itself on the rearview mirror and filled the car with its melodious song. Unfortunately, this song was the bird’s last; mid-song, the warbler collapsed and died. After this point, Mesure grasped the serious consequences of bird collisions and the urgent need for action.

Soon after, Mesure co-founded the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a groundbreaking program aimed at reducing bird collisions. Initially, FLAP focused its efforts on nighttime collisions, in which migrating birds were enticed to city lights and collided with structures on their path. FLAP Workers and volunteers scoured downtown Toronto in the early hours, meticulously gathering the victims of these collisions. However, as daylight broke, it became clear that daytime crashes posed a greater issue. Over the years, FLAP’s committed team has spent countless hours patrolling city streets, resulting in the finding of over 85,000 birds from 172 different species, demonstrating their undying dedication to bird conservation.

Understanding the severity of the problem

Every year, millions of birds are killed in North America as a result of window collisions. Dr. Christine Sheppard, an expert in bird-window collision research, emphasizes the gravity of the situation, saying, “Scientists estimate that windows kill more than a billion birds every year in North America.” Despite this sad reality, there is a possibility for change.

Why do birds collide with windows?

Birds, driven by instinct rather than perception, frequently fail to detect the presence of glass barriers. According to professor of ornithology and conservation biology at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania Dr. Daniel Klem Jr., “Their behavior and our knowledge of their visual systems inform us that the glass is invisible to them.” This intrinsic inability to recognize glass emphasizes the need to make windows visible to our bird friends.

How to make your windows safe for birds

Solutions are available in the form of window visibility markers such as decals, film, or screens. Here’s how to best use them.

1. Marker spacing: 

Markers should be closely spaced, with no gaps wider than two inches, to establish a distinct visual deterrent for birds. Small birds like kinglets and hummingbirds like to slip through tiny openings, so tightly spaced markers are a must. Otherwise, birds may perceive the gaps between markers as airspace, making the risk of collision higher. Research shows that markers positioned within this spacing range are most effective in preventing birds from crashing into windows.

2. Complete coverage: 

Treat the entire window surface to remove any potential risks for birds, assuring their safety from top to bottom. Any portion left untreated poses a threat to birds, as they may still think of untreated areas as open spaces. By fully covering your windows, you can create a clear visual deterrent for birds and reduce the likelihood of collisions.

3. Outside Placement: 

Place marks on the outside surface of windows to improve visibility in all lighting conditions and keep reflections from becoming lethal traps. Sometimes, transparent windows can transform into mirrors, rendering markers on the inside surface useless. By placing markers on the outside surface, you ensure they remain visible to birds under any lighting conditions.

How to identify high-risk windows

Begin by determining the windows that are most likely to cause collisions based on reflections, visibility, and adjacent vegetation. By identifying problem areas, you may focus your efforts where they are most important.

Effective collision deterrents

Empower yourself with viable strategies to protect birds and your view:

1. Acopian BirdSavers: 

These innovative cords hang gracefully outside your windows, adding a touch of serenity to your home while protecting our avian companions.

One of the secrets behind their effectiveness? They sway gently in the breeze, creating a mesmerizing dance that breaks up reflections and alerts birds to the presence of windows. And here’s the best part: they can be spaced up to four inches apart and still work like a charm!

2. Window screens: 

Say hello to window screens! An ideal solution for safeguarding birds without sacrificing your view. When installed on the exterior of your windows, these screens work wonders by eliminating reflections, allowing birds to easily spot and avoid potential collisions.

What’s more, window screens cover the entire surface, eliminating the need for precise spacing. This means you can relax knowing that every inch of your window is protected, while still enjoying unobstructed views of the outdoors.

3. Feather-friendly DIY tape: 

This tape is simple to apply and extremely successful, creating visible marks on windows that alert birds to potential threats and save lives in the process. It was one of the first solutions designed to prevent bird collisions and protect our avian companions.

4. Collidescape and Solyx Bird Safety Film: 

Collidescape is a perforated film that keeps birds safe while enhancing your privacy and reducing glare and cooling costs. With its innovative design, Collidescape is transparent from the inside, allowing you to enjoy unobstructed views while appearing opaque from the outside, providing much-needed privacy.

Solyx Bird Safety Film works similarly but covers the entire window. It comes in a variety of patterns: horizontal or vertical stripes, dots, frosted birds, colorful birds, or a trellis pattern

5. Tempera paint:

Use non-toxic tempera paint to convert windows into bright works of art while keeping birds safe from crashes. It can withstand rainfall and even storms, but to wash it off all you need is a wet sponge.

Balancing aesthetics and conservation

Many people are concerned about sacrificing their views or their aesthetic preferences. Mesure assures us that once installed, markers fade smoothly into the background, becoming an intrinsic yet subtle part of your home’s attractiveness and distinct look.

With each simple alteration to our windows, we can have a significant impact on bird conservation efforts. By banding together and implementing bird-friendly policies, we can save countless lives and make the world a safer place for our feathery friends.

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