If you live in a place with windows, especially large ones, you may be familiar with the sad truth about birds and windows: they don’t get along. Some wild birds exhibit a behavior that can only be described as attacking windows, especially during the spring. In this article we give you some tips to stop birds from attacking your windows. You’ll find that it’s easy and affordable.
How to Stop Birds from Attacking Windows
Territorial male birds mistake their own reflection in a window for a challenger, and attempt to fight it with less than pleasant results. While humans can easily tell that a reflection is just that – a reflection – birds are not able to do so. Why? Birds have eyesight that is slightly different from humans’.
Since their eyes are on the sides of their head, instead of in front, they don’t have the depth perception like humans do. This can make judging if a reflection is real very difficult. It can also lead to window attacks and angry birds.
Below are some simple tips to try that may help you decrease the number of bird attacks at your windows. A lot of these tips are affordable or cost practically nothing to do. Using them in combination may help increase the rate of success.
1. Don’t clean your windows
Yes, this may seem counterintuitive, but it actually helps keep birds away from your windows. Why? Dirty windows don’t have as good of a reflection as clean windows do.
If an aggressive bird can’t see his reflection in the window, he won’t attack it. If you can stand it, go a few weeks without cleaning your windows and see if that makes a difference in the number of window ‘attacks.’
2. Attach scraps of colored paper and aluminum foil to the exterior of your window(s)
This solution is a temporary one, since colored paper and aluminum foil are definitely not weatherproof, nor are they visually attractive. Even so, if you’re looking for a short-term solution to aggressive window attackers, this is your solution.
Just use some tape to attach the scraps – painters’ tape may be the best since it is least likely to leave a mark after removal. Think of the colored paper and aluminum foil assembly as a ‘window scarecrow,’ meant to disrupt reflections from the window and scare the birds away.
3. Put some plants in front of the problem window(s)
If you can, try moving a potted plant or planting a plant in front of the window. This is especially useful in ground-floor windows or patio windows. If the glass is blocked by a plant, there are fewer chances a bird will see himself reflected in it. The larger the plant and the more of the window it covers, the better.
If the window in question is on a second story, consider installing a window box with some leafy plants.
3. Move bird feeders away from the windows
If you love bringing birds to your yard with birdseed and other treats, it may be time to stop putting out the birdseed or move the bird feeder further away from points of contact. Usually, feeders are nearby windows. It stands that if you lower the number of birds coming in close contact with your windows, you will lower the chance that a male can mistake his reflection for a challenger.
Usually, window attacks occur in the spring, so it may be possible to shift your bird feeder location farther away from windows just during the spring. Then, in the other seasons, you can put it back in its original spot.
4. Apply reflective bird tape to the exterior of your windows
If you want to still be able to look out the window, and you have a dedicated budget to home maintenance or birding, tape may be a good option for you. Bird tape is different from conventional wrapping tape or packing tape. Bird tape is a special reflective tape applied to the exterior of a window, at about 4” intervals.
It works by breaking up the reflection an aggressive bird sees, so that it realizes that it’s not a real challenger. You can find a 40 foot roll of bird tape here. One roll will be enough to cover two patio doors or a set of large corner windows.
5. Turn off your interior lights at night
Many birds migrate at night. Interior lights, which are visible through windows, may trigger aggressive attitudes in some birds. This may not affect you very severely unless you live in a migratory bird flyway, but bird-window attacks can occur at higher rates during migration seasons. In the confusion caused by large flocks roosting, they can see a reflection of themselves in lighted windows and attack.
6. Apply UV Reflective decals to the exterior of windows
UV reflective decals are a fancier option than reflective bird tape, but they work well for uniquely-shaped windows or for birdwatchers who prefer to add some personality to their window setups.
These UV reflective decals come in nine different patterns, from leaves to bird shapes. They’re different from bird tape because they’re translucent to the human eye but appear brightly colored to the eyes of birds.
7. Use an awning or exterior window shade
Awnings and exterior window shades are a great way to reduce window glare and reflections. Some awnings are remote controlled and automated, so they can be deployed during certain times when bird aggression is high.
In the case of exterior window shades, they make it easier to view songbirds and other birds at feeders or birdbaths. This is because the birds can’t see past the mesh and thus don’t see humans moving behind the glass.
8. Encourage aggressive bird species to nest and visit elsewhere
If your yard is a prime nesting ground for any of the following bird species, it may be a good idea to change your birdseed, move nest boxes, or reconfigure your birdbaths.
If your yard is visited by the American robin, American goldfinch, Eastern bluebird, Northern cardinal, or California towhee, consider making your yard less welcoming to these species. You can do so by distancing nest boxes (especially for bluebirds) as far from windows as possible.
To distance finches, towhees, and cardinals, avoid feeding with black oil sunflower seeds. Robins eat insects and worms, so try not to position well-watered garden areas, which have high insect populations, near windows.
It can be heartbreaking to hear the ‘thunk’ of a bird colliding with a sliding glass door or office window. It can also be annoying to hear a bird pecking at your window incessantly. However, it’s preventable.
Use some of the methods suggested in this article to reduce window attacks as well as protect the bird population from window strikes. Window strikes are the second leading cause of bird deaths, next to cats.