|American Bird Conservancy recommends spacing window tape four inches apart vertically or two inches apart horizontally to deter birds from flying into windows. Photo courtesy of the American Bird Conservancy|
Here's a link to my column, which is scheduled to run in Saturday's: Orange County Register.
Walls of glass that blur the boundaries between indoors and out may be an appealing design feature for homeowners, but for birds, it’s deadly.
That telltale thud against a window is a horrible sound to bird lovers. Millions of birds die each year from flying into windows. And these incidents happen more frequently during spring and fall migration.
“It’s a conservation issue that everyone can immediately act upon to make a difference,” said Christine Sheppard, Bird Collisions Campaign manager for American Bird Conservancy and one of the nation’s leading experts on window strikes. “Everyone can make their house friendly to birds.”
The problem is that birds can’t see glass. They see a reflection of their habitat and strike the glass as they attempt to fly through.
The most vulnerable are songbirds, which already face threats from climate change and habitat loss. “Unfortunately, hummingbirds are killed in large numbers from window strikes,” Sheppard said.
To help prevent window collisions, the experts at American Bird Conservancy have designed translucent ABC BirdTape. Most birds will avoid windows with vertical stripes spaced four inches apart or horizontal stripes spaced two inches apart. When the tape is applied according to these guidelines, birds will see a barrier to avoid, not space to fly through.
“The good news is that after you put tape up, you’ll forget it’s there,” she said.
There are also a variety of prefabricated decals that can be used as an alternative to tape as long as they are placed according to the above guidelines, she said. Tempera paint, which is available at most craft stores, is an inexpensive solution. It can also be used to create window designs that have the same effect as tape. The paint stays on even in the rain, but will easily come off with a damp sponge.
“Birds are accurate judges of their body size,” she said. They fly through tight spaces in their habitat, so the tape or decals have to be placed according to the guidelines to be effective.
“Window screens are the simplest solution,” Sheppard said. “Even if there’s a bit of a reflection, it’s less dangerous because they tend to bounce off.” Bird netting when stretched a few inches in front of a window can have a similar effect.
For more information on window strikes, go to abcbirds.org or abcbirdtape.org.