It’s estimated that windows kill and injure more birds than any other human influence – about 1 billion birds annually in North America alone! Many of these window strikes happen at tall buildings in cities, especially during migration, but residential homes contribute to bird fatalities, as well.
Research has identified several factors that contribute to increases in the frequency and fatality of bird-window strikes:
- Season – Most collisions happen during fall migration.
- Window area – Larger windows or walls with proportionately more window area experience more collisions.
- Green space – More green space around a home (e.g., parks and older trees) = more collisions.
- Feeders – Window collisions happen more often at homes with feeders.
Does this mean I need to get rid of my feeder?
However, the placement of your feeder can significantly influence the number and severity of bird-window collisions.
Intuition would suggest that the closer a feeder is to a window, the greater the risk, but the opposite is true: feeders that are within 1 metre of windows result in fewer strikes.
Because most strikes happen when birds see the reflection of greenery and/or sky in the window and fly into it at full speed. Birds see a feeder that’s close to a window and slow down for it. Similarly, it takes distance for birds to reach full speed when flying away from a feeder, so if they happen to hit a window that’s close to a feeder, they will be moving more slowly. The number and severity of strikes increases the farther a feeder is from the window.
Putting all this together, here are a few things you can do to continue enjoying the pleasure of watching birds at your feeder while reducing the risk of them injuring or killing themselves by hitting your window:
- Read our June 2018 blog post, A Pane in the Neck: Reflections on Birds and Windows, to learn more about window strikes and how to reduce them.
- Move your feeder closer to the window. This may be especially important if you have a lot of large windows on the wall facing the feeders’ current position. While you may not be able to move it to 1 metre from the window, any reduction in the distance between your feeder and your windows will help.
- Consider setting up a feeder that attaches to your window. They can help reduce collisions, and they offer some fantastic viewing opportunities!
Take extra care to increase the visibility of your windows in late-summer/fall while birds are moving south. This can include tips in the blog post above, as well as putting Feather Friendly tape and Window Alert stickers on your windows.