Friday, April 25, 2008


Sadly, feeding the birds is not always pleasant. Today, during the evening dinner rush, a female sparrow tragically collided with our patio door (plain glass), and seemed to break her neck in the collision. She didn't suffer, certainly, but the accident puts a pall on the joys of backyard birdfeeding. All backyard birders should be aware of the consequences of both highly reflective and clear windows -- both can be lethal for birds. They may be unaware the the window is there if it is so clear they can see through it, or they may see trees and plants reflected in the window that they believe they can fly to.

Studies indicate that as many as 100 million or more birds may perish as a result of window and building collisions each year, either immediately from the impact or shortly thereafter from injuries received during the collision. To prevent these accidents, backyard birders can do many things, including...
  • Using soap, tape, whitewash, stickers, or other reflectors to break up the expanse of glass so birds are aware of the window. CollidEscape is a material that creates the appearance of a solid wall without obstructing the view - it is more expensive, but well worth the investment.
  • Keeping feeders either very close to windows or greater than 10 feet from windows - if the feeders are close, birds can't gain the momentum necessary for an injury collision, and if the feeders are further away, they can avoid the glass more easily.
  • Install exterior shutters, blinds, or netting to keep birds from contacting the glass. This has the distinct drawback, however, of obstructing the view and keeping you from enjoying the pleasures of winged visitors.
  • Keeping windowscreens on windows throughout the year. While this cannot prevent collisions with patio doors, it can prevent window collisions.

I plan on installing CollidEscape as soon as possible to prevent other such accidents. It won't bring back the sparrow that has been lost, but today has been a lesson that won't be forgotten. For more information about bird window collisions and preventing such tragedies, I recommend this article from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as well as a detailed account from WildBird Magazine.

Fly free, little sparrow.

1 comment:

Tandaina- said...

Oh the poor thing. Mom uses cut outs of falcon shapes on her patio door and it does seem to keep the birds from flying into it.