Bird versus window

by John Briggs on August 9, 2008

in Bird Photographs, Blog

Juvenile Black and White Warbler

Juvenile Black and White Warbler

We don’t have many birds flying into our windows here at home. About the worst that happens is a brush by because we keep our feeder within 2 feet of our picture window.

Last evening, this juvenile Black and White Warbler had a fairly decent collision which put it straight to the ground. My wife alerted me that the bird was on the ground dazed and confused. I went out and gently picked up the tiny creature and kept it warm in my hands for a time.

It seemed like this little fella was going to be fine. After 15 minutes or so, it climbed my shirt and perched on my shoulder for a while, looking around and cheeping occasionally.

Juvenile Black and White Warbler

Juvenile Black and White Warbler

 My little friend finally shook it off and flew into the trees. But not before leaving me a little present for my help. No problem, it washes off easily. I feel better that the little fella is fine. (Yes I did handle the bird. But it was to protect it from predators while it recovered. I had no intention in causing harm to this migratory bird.)

Ornithologists estimate that up to 100 million birds are killed each year by collisions with windows. These collisions usually involve small songbirds, such as finches, that may fall unnoticed to the ground. Sometimes the birds are merely stunned and recover in a few moments. Often, though, window hits lead to severe internal injuries and death.

Here are a few tips to help avoid these collisions.

  • Relocate feeders and other attractants. You can start by simply moving your feeders and birdbaths to new locations. Bird strikes usually occur at particular windows, so moving feeders farther away from them may solve the problem entirely. You can also try placing your feeders much closer to the glass—if a feeder is just a foot or two from a window, birds may still fly into it, but not with enough force to injure themselves.
  • Avoid apparent visual tunnels. Bright windows on the opposite wall from your picture window may give the illusion of a visual tunnel through which birds may try to fly. Try making one window less transparent by keeping a shade drawn or a door closed, or by altering the lighting inside the house.
  • Commercially available hawk silhouettes are effective at deterring window strikes, as long as you use several. They work not because they look like hawks, but because they break up the window’s appearance. Do not attach objects directly to thermopane windows without consulting the manufacturer.
  • Attach branches in front of windows. For a more natural look, attach dead tree branches in front of your window. They may cause the birds to slow down and avoid the window as they fly toward it. You can arrange the branches so they don’t obscure your view.
  • Attach hanging objects to deter birds. Hang lightweight, shiny items in front of the window so they move in the breeze and dissuade birds from approaching. Try strips of shiny, reflective plastic (hung a few inches apart), old aluminum pie plates, or unwanted compact discs.
  • Reduce reflections with trees or awnings. Reduce the amount of light reaching a problem window by planting shade trees close to it. This will help prevent reflections. However, it will also obstruct your view. Trees take time to grow, so consider shading your window with an awning instead. Either one may help birds by reducing the amount of sky reflected in windows.
  • Cover windows with netting. Place netting over the window. It provides a physical barrier to birds flying into the glass, yet won’t obstruct your view. Small-mesh netting is best, so if birds do fly into it they won’t get their heads or bodies entangled but will bounce off unharmed. You can mount the netting on a frame, such as a storm-window frame, for easy installation and removal. You could also try insect screening material.

Another aid in avoiding collisions at night is to draw your blinds so birds don’t see the light inside your home. During night migration, birds are know to fly into windows that have light on the other side. This commonly occurs in taller building such as apartments and high-rises.


Here on the home front, I am recovering from a back injury. I have not been out and about birding like I would like too, but there’s plenty of action in the yard. Fledglings are everywhere! Parents are feeding the young and juveniles are playing and learning.

Fledged Hummingbirds have this activity not much unlike a game of chicken. They charge at each other until at the very last second, one will dodge, just avoiding a mid-air collision. I have counted at the least 10 Hummingbirds, 6 of which are fledglings.

Chipping Sparrows will eat all that you can provide. Especially if one of these “Chippers” are raising a Brown Headed Cowbird. It is amazing watching the Sparrow feeding a bird 3 to 4 times its size. The fledged Chippers are all over the place and they are noisy.

We had 17 species nesting either on our property or within the immediate vicinity. From Purple Finches, Osprey, and Bald Eagles to a family of Black Ducks and Canada Geese. I will compile the list and report it as soon as I am sure I have identified all the local nesters.

The sun has finally revealed its warmth, after all of this cool, rainy weather we have been having. Hopefully the flooding is over and we can began to enjoy the outdoors once again.

I leave you with a few pictures of a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird that I photographed this morning on one of our feeders.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine.

 

Happy birding!

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