During raptor mew renovations a few weeks ago, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that the plexiglass windows were clear – really clear. They were so fresh and clean that I couldn’t see them from inside the mew. I worried that the birds wouldn’t see them either, and might hurt themselves flying into them.
Windows are some of the most dangerous obstacles a wild bird will face. Millions of birds die each year from window strikes as they mistake the reflections for open space. Luckily there are many solutions to prevent these collisions.
New buildings can install windows angled downward to reflect the ground or choose window panes infused with UV reflective properties that birds can see but are invisible to us. For existing windows, homeowners can add UV decals or bird-friendly tape to make the windows more visible to birds.
There are also low-tech solutions that can be just as effective. I recently found the “Acopian BirdSavers” method, named after the Acopian family. Wanting to reduce bird collisions with their windows in the 1980’s, the family began hanging decorative beaded curtains outside their windows. This design was simplified over the years to a more classic, rather than groovy, vibe. Modern Acopian BirdSavers are simply made by hanging lengths of parachute cord from the window frame, spaced 4 inches apart. This curtain alerts birds to the window’s presence while having a minimal impact on a human’s view.
I happened to have a roll of parachute cord on hand and crafted a “BirdSaver” on each raptor mew window. The thin cords remind the birds that there is a barrier while not disrupting their views of the backyard.