With a blend of urban areas, lakes and rivers, agricultural fields, and forests, the Peterborough area encompasses a huge variety of habitats. On top of that, we sit in an area know as “The Land Between,” the transition zone between the granite-based Precambrian Shield in the north and the limestone-based soils in the south.
This diversity of habitat types is a blessing. It supports a tremendous amount of plant and animal species. We’re lucky to have so many birds who call our area home for at least some of the year, including many that pass through the area during migration as they move farther north in spring to breeding areas and south in the fall to wintering grounds.
One unfortunate, and often avoidable challenge for birds, especially during migration, are window strikes. Windows allow us to watch and enjoy the beauty of the birds around is, but they can be fatal for them. When lighting conditions are just right (or wrong, really) the surface of a window acts from the outside like a mirror, and birds see the reflections of surrounding vegetation or sky as if they can simply continue the flight path they’re on. Depending on the speed at which the bird is flying, the result of a window strike could range from a momentary daze to instant death.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce the frequency and severity of window strikes, including setting up a feeder or planting a sapling-sized tree or shrub not far from your window. Another approach is window decals, perhaps the most familiar being the black falcon-shaped decals intended to fool birds into thinking there’s a predator in front of them. Another option is UV decals that make the window visible to them. These decals appear clear to the human eye, but because birds can see in the UV spectrum, they are colourful and obvious to birds. An alternative to UV decals is UV liquid, which is applied to the window using a bingo-style dabber. UV decals and liquid need to be replaced once a year. A longer-term solution is Feather Friendly tape, which is placed on the outside of a window to cover it with a pattern of small dots. Tape takes longer to apply but also lasts for years. One roll covers a patio-door-sized window.
This topic is important to us, so we’ve spoken about it in previous blog posts and Garden Gate episodes. To learn more and explore ideas and options for check out A Pane in the Neck: Reflections on Birds and Windows (June 2018) and Birds, Windows, and Feeder Placement (March 2021), as well as Garden Gate episode 213: Reducing bird strikes on your windows (Apr 9, 2021).
Interested in learning more about which bird species are in the Peterborough Region and where they’ve been spotted? eBird is a citizen-driven database that anyone can enter sighting into. It’s maintained by Cornell University and can be searched by region. To check out the eBird site for the Peterborough region.