It’s a painful sound: that familiar thud. Sometimes they live to fly another day… Other times they aren’t so lucky. Fortunately there’s plenty you can do to prevent birds from flying into windows:
- Apply strips of tape to the outside
- Place UV decals
- Apply window film
- Paint the window with window-safe paint
- Apply a layer of soap to the outside of the window
- Replace your windows with ultraviolet glass
- Add bird-saver paracords to the outside of windows
- Install an official Bird Crash Preventer nylon line system
- Add a bird screen or netting to the outside of your windows
- Install exterior shutters or sunshades
- Hang wind chimes
- Dangle branches
- Strategically position bird feeders
- Turn off lights and close curtains at night
- Move indoor plants away from windows
Let’s take a closer look at how to keep birds from flying into windows:
How many birds die from window strikes?
According to a recent study published in Science News , up to 988 million birds die from crashing into windows every year. And that’s just the United States ALONE. Believe it or not, only cats kill more birds than windows do.
What is it about windows that makes them so deadly, and why do birds repeatedly fly into them?
Why do birds repeatedly fly into windows?
To a bird, windows aren’t just invisible, they’re inviting . Birds see the reflection of the bushes, plants, and trees and fly straight for them. Other times they catch their own reflection and think it’s a rival bird.
But these are just the daytime risks. Windows can be a threat at night too.
Like a moth to a flame, interior lights lure nocturnal birds off their migratory paths. Researchers aren’t entirely sure why, but this happens more often in foggy conditions.
They might not fly into a window right away, but they hang around the light long enough until…
The inevitable happens.
To prevent heartbreaking moments like this from happening, here are the best ways to prevent birds from flying into windows:
How to prevent birds from flying into windows
From shiny tape and window film to screens and nets, there’s plenty you can do to make your windows safer for birds. Believe it or not, you can even find windows with ultraviolet glass that deters birds. Replacing your windows, however, can be a tad expensive.
Thankfully there are also plenty of inexpensive, hassle-free ways to bird-proof your windows:
6 quick solutions for bird-proofing windows
If you can…
- Peel tape
- Slap on stickers
- Apply window film
- Use a paintbrush
- or suds up some soap…
- Some simple white lines
…then you can protect birds from the peril of windows.
Here are some of the easiest ways to make your windows more bird-friendly:
1. Roll on the bird tape
Vertical markings deter birds from windows.
By putting strips of vertical tape on your windows, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of a bird collision.
Here are a few guidelines for applying bird tape the right way:
- Always apply tape to the outside of windows
- Space the tape no more than 4 inches apart (2 inches if hummingbirds are a problem)
- Use tape that can withstand rain
- White tape or special ultraviolet tape is best
- If you use black tape, you’ll need to space the strips less than 1 inch apart
Don’t like how strips of tape look on your window?
Try some bird decals instead:
2. Slap on some bird decals
Decals and stickers are a nice alternative to tape if you want something that’s easier on the eye.
They’re also designed not to damage exterior window coatings. But you should know that just slapping on a handful of decals isn’t going to do any good. If you want to save birds, you’ll have to use quite a few.
Here are the most important things to keep in mind when applying bird decals:
- Use plenty of them
- Place them very close together (at most only a few inches apart)
- Cover most of the glass
Remember, the goal is to make it appear impossible to fly through, so the closer the better. Regular old sticky notes can work in a pinch too, but it’s best to buy ultraviolet bird decals . The shiny UV spectrum provides an extra deterrent that can be the difference between life and death.
***As a side note, hawk silhouette stickers DO NOT effectively deter birds.
What’s most important is keeping them tightly spaced and using a material that reflects UV light.
3. Bird approved window film
Apply a one-way transparent film that allows you to see out but prevents birds from seeing in. This is also great for adding another layer of privacy to your home. As a bonus, the extra shade should lower cooling costs in the hot summer months.
Window films come in patterns such as:
Some brands even come in cool nature-inspired designs to give your window an interesting look while protecting innocent birds.
Window films can be a little tricky to put on, so you might want to ask a professional to install them for you.
4. Window paint for bird-proofing windows
Apply window-safe paint instead of tape and make cool designs.
Tempera paint is inexpensive and long-lasting. Why not get creative and turn it into an art project?! Just make sure that any gaps are less 2-4 inches, otherwise, a bird might try to sneak through.
The same spacing rules apply if you decide to paint a simple grid pattern instead.
5. Suds up the soap and save a bird
Putting soap on your window can keep birds from crashing into them. The secret is in the suds — when light hits the soap it acts as a bird deterrent.
Want to seriously go above and beyond for birds?
6. Use a white marker on the outside of your window
Draw some simple white vertical lines on your window. These will indicate that a barrier exists there and should deter birds from flying into the window. Check out the video below for an example of what I mean:
Apply bird tape, decals, paint, or window film and add a layer of soap for good measure. Keep in mind that you’ll have to reapply it a few times a week (more often if there’s rain).
Now let’s take a look at some heavy-duty ways to bird-proof your abode:
5 Window Upgrades for A Bird Friendly Remodel
Are you a bird advocate through and through?
Then there are few more permanent ways to keep birds from flying into windows, like…
- Specialty glass
- Bird-saver paracords
- Bird Crash Preventers
- Screens and nets
- Shutters and shades
These steps will require more time, effort, and money to install, but in the end, you’ll be giving birds a better chance at survival.
1. Install specialty bird glass
UV-reflective bird glass and fritted, etched or sandblasted windows are a permanent bird-friendly solution.
Here’s a quick overview of your window options:
- UV-reflective glass: visible to birds and transparent to humans (best option)
- Fritted glass: closely spaced dots on opaque glass that’s highly visible to birds
- Etched/sandblasted glass: decorative patterns etched or sandblasted into your glass (just make sure the pattern doesn’t have spaces greater than 4 inches wide or 2 inches high)
You should be able to order these specialty glass options through your local home improvement store.
If you’re remodeling or building a new house, you can also ask your contractor to install your windows with a slight downward tilt. At an angle of 20+ degrees, glass reflects the ground instead of the foliage and shouldn’t be a bird hazard.
2. Bird-saver paracords
Bird-saver paracords prevent bird crashes and are relatively easy to install on the outside of windows. Acopian Birdsavers are recommended by the American Bird Conservancy. However, DIY paracords can work just as well.
Here’s how to make your own bird-saver paracord:
- Use dark-colored vinyl paracord
- Cut the cords to match the height of your windows
- Measure the width of your window frame
- Cut the j-channels to match the width of the paracord (a j-channel is a simple mounting bracket that the paracord slips into)
- Use either screws or adhesive Velcro strips to secure the j-channels
- Mount the j-channels so that the cords hang vertically 4 inches apart across the whole window
You have a corded, bird-friendly window.
3. Use official Bird Crash Preventers for less visible protection
Bird Crash Preventers are a less visible way to keep birds from flying into windows. They’re endorsed by the American Bird Conservancy and are made from a grid of nylon line. The line is highly visible to birds but humans barely notice them at all.
And the best part?
They’re easy to install with simple screws and brackets. Just pick the right dimensions for your windows and you’re good to go.
4. Prevent birds from flying into windows with screens and nets
Installing screens or nets over the outside of your window is another effective way to keep birds at bay. Mosquito screens also work great as long as they cover the entire window.
Here’s how to set up bird netting the right way:
- Make sure the mesh of the netting has holes that are no bigger than 1.6 cm or ⅝ inches
- Hang the netting at least 3 inches away from the window
- Pull it taught so that if a bird tries to fly into the window it will bounce off without hitting the glass
You can even find specialty bird netting made from durable nylon. It lasts a long time and can halt a bird’s flight without causing injury.
5. Install shutters or sunshades
Installing exterior shades or shutters is a guaranteed way to keep birds from flying into windows.
Are there rooms in your house that don’t need natural sunlight?
Maybe an office, extra bedroom, or laundry room?
These are great windows for closed shutters. While you’re at it, you might as well install shutters or shades on all your windows and keep them closed when nobody’s home.
After all, there’s no need for natural light when no one’s there to enjoy it. Plus, the shutters will keep out heat and reduce cooling costs in the summer. Likewise, exterior shutters trap warmth inside during the winter.
Placing Objects In Front of Windows
Positioning objects in front of windows can divert birds and prevent them from flying into windows:
- Hang wind chimes in front of windows
- Dangle branches in front of windows
- Place bird feeders near windows
1. Hang wind chimes in front of windows
Hanging shiny wind chimes in front of windows can deter birds.
You can also use wind spinning rods specifically designed to prevent birds from crashing into windows. Or as a DIY solution, you can make your own bird deterrent “wind chime” from old CDs or aluminum pie plates.
2. Suspend branches in front of windows
Dangle real tree branches in front of windows for a more natural-looking DIY approach. Position them a few inches from the window and make sure they’re far enough away so that they don’t leave scratches.
3. Place bird feeders near windows
Place bird feeders roughly three feet in front of windows. This gives birds a safe target without having to get dangerously close to the window. If you want to place feeders farther away from the house, make sure they’re at least 30 feet away from the nearest window.
Bird-proofing the Inside of Your Home
Although birds are outside, there’s still plenty you can do inside your home to keep birds safe:
- Turn off lights whenever possible
- Close the curtains and blinds
- Move indoor plants away from windows
Certain types of birds (especially warblers) can be attracted to indoor lighting, so it’s best to turn lights off and close curtains when you can.
On a similar note, it’s important to move plants away from windows because birds might try to land on them if they’re too close.
Which species fly into windows most often?
Territorial birds like cardinals and robins fly into windows more often during the breeding season. They tend to mistake their reflection for a rival bird, charge the window, and KAPOW!
Nocturnal migrants are at high risk at night because they’re attracted to interior lights.
The following species are the most at risk:
- Painted Bunting
- Worm-eating Warbler
- Canada Warbler
- Black-throated Blue Warbler
- Golden-winged Warbler
- Townsend’s Solitaires
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
- Anna’s Hummingbirds
What buildings are the most dangerous for birds?
Both skyscrapers and single-family homes are more or less equally responsible for bird deaths.
According to a study published in The Condor , buildings between four and 11 stories are responsible for 56 percent of deaths, while one to three-story buildings account for roughly 44 percent.
However, skyscrapers do significantly more damage. For example, a single skyscraper might kill 24 birds in a year while a single family home kills only one.
How to Help a Stunned Bird
Birds are resilient creatures, and they often survive full-speed collisions, at least temporarily.
If you find a stunned bird, here’s how to care for it:
- Pick up the bird and gently place it in a paper bag or cardboard box with air holes
- Avoid touching the bird from this point on
- Keep it in a warm, dry, quiet place
- Check on it every 30 minutes and listen for activity
- If the bird is moving around and seems to have recovered, take it outside and open the container
- If nothing happens after a couple of hours but it’s still breathing, contact the closest wildlife rehab center
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts many birds will still die.
However, by taking steps such as…
- Applying window film
- Using UV decals/tape
- Installing netting, shutters, and paracords
…you can do your part to cut down on the number of bird deaths.
Keep fighting the good fight and do what you can to bird-proof your home.