Preventing Bird Window Collisions

Keeping Birds Safe and Supporting a Good Cause

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It happens to all of us, after hearing a thwack in the window and then running outside and dreading to find a dazed or dead bird on the ground as yet another an unfortunate victim of a window collision.

At that moment, you promise yourself to never let this happen again.

But do you take steps to prevent the next collision?

Probably not.

According to the American Bird Conservancy, up to 1 billion birds die each year in the U.S. after hitting into glass windows, walls, or other structures, making this threat one of the most costly to our beautiful birds.

And it’s one of the leading causes of bird deaths.

This stunning male Cooper's Hawk injured his wing nerve after colliding with a window chasing a songbird. He's now a bird ambassador at Christine's Critters and unable to return to the wild
This stunning male Cooper’s Hawk injured his wing nerve after colliding with a window chasing a songbird. He’s now a bird ambassador at Christine’s Critters and unable to return to the wild

Birds and Window Collisions

So why do birds crash into windows and buildings?

By day, birds perceive reflections in the glass as a habitat they can fly into.

And by night, migratory birds drawn in by city lights are at high risk of colliding with buildings.

Birds are killed in huge numbers by the large glass surfaces in every city across the country, and it’s become such a peril that the largest municipality in the U.S. took notice.

NYC is Dangerous for Birds

New York City sits on the Atlantic Flyway, as well as on a tidal estuary, making it a well-known hotspot for avian biodiversity.

More than a hundred bird species pass through the city each year during the spring and fall migration seasons.

Many are stopping over to feed in green spaces like Central Park, Prospect Park, and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Osprey on nesting platform at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City
Osprey on nesting platform at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City

Other species rely on the city’s sensitive salt marshes, reclaimed landfills, freshwater lakes, and the estuaries where rivers meet tidal seawater.

So birds face high levels of mortality as they pass through the city.

NYC Audubon estimates that 90,000 to 230,000 birds die each year from collisions with windows, which look invisible to migrating birds.

In December 2019, the New York City Council passed one of the country’s most comprehensive bird-safe glass laws yet.

The law, Proposed Initiative 1482B, requires any new construction and certain renovations to use bird-safe materials designed to prevent bird-strike deaths.

Advocates for the bill hope it will lead the way for similar laws in other communities.

Save Birds by Making Windows Bird-friendly

The good news is that we don’t have to wait for laws to pass to save birds, and it’s an easy problem to solve.

Take these simple steps to save birds, whether you live in a house or an apartment building.

On the outside of the window, install screens or break up reflections—using film, paint, or bird savers decals or other string spaced no more than two inches high or two inches wide.

Save Birds and Support a Good Cause 

Several wildlife nonprofits and bird organizations sell window decals.

Google ‘window collisions’ and take your pick.

We’ve used CollidEscape’s window films, and the product works well to minimize our songbird window collisions.

If you want to support a good cause and prevent birds from colliding with your windows, we recommend purchasing window clings from Christine’s Critters, a fabulous wildlife rehabilitator helping to save birds of prey in southern Connecticut.

Christine’s Critters offers a two-pack of window clings for $20.

One pack has two ultraviolet hawk decals and the other 3 leaf decals.

Prevent bird window collisions and support a good cause when you purchase Christine’s Critters window clings
Prevent bird window collisions and support a good cause when you purchase Christine’s Critters window clings

Every purchase helps offset the food and vet bills for the injured birds of prey, and the lost funding from programs canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Purchase Christine’s Critter Window Clings on their Facebook page here.

Scroll to the top of their page and donate to their fundraiser page.

Two of Christine’s bird ambassadors are window collision survivors, so this is a cause that is very close to her heart.

Read about Christine’s injured birds of prey and their second chance at life here.

This beautiful Broad-winged Hawk collided with a window shortly after fledging sustaining nerve damage to her wing.
 She has has no control of her left wing and cannot survive in the wild
This beautiful Broad-winged Hawk collided with a window shortly after fledging sustaining nerve damage to her wing.
 She has has no control of her left wing and cannot survive in the wild

Other Things You Can Do to Prevent Window Collisions

If you enjoy feeding birds in your yard, then move your feeders.

Keep feeders and birdbaths closer than three feet to the window or further than 15 feet away.

If the birds are very close to the window, they won’t build up sufficient speed for an injury if they fly at the window.

And if the feeders are further away, birds can avoid hitting the window altogether.

Close curtains or blinds to break the illusion of a clear passage or reflected habitat.

Don’t put houseplants near the window. Birds may view them as a refuge and try to perch on them.

If you want to make even more of a difference, work with businesses or public buildings offering a contest for creative “window mural” designs making windows safer for birds.

Support legislation for bird-friendly building designs, like the Bird-Safe Buildings Act.

Most importantly, take steps now to prevent the next collision, and keep our beautiful avian friends safe.

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