By Kathy Salisbury
Director, Ambler Arboretum of Temple University
As you find yourself home more hours than usual you may be noticing all of the birds around your house. In some cases, you may be noticing how many birds are flying into the windows of your home.
There are a few reasons they do this. The window can act like a giant mirror reflecting the nature on the other side, making it look like the bird is flying to another tree. You also may have windows across from each other in a room which look like they can be flown through. This is called a window bird strike and these collisions are a cause for concern.
As citizens of the eastern coast of the United States, we are lucky enough to find ourselves in an important migratory bird path providing an opportunity to witness a diversity of birds many others do not get to see. This migration is happening now. The increased bird traffic may increase the number of collisions with your structures.
We notice this in the Ambler Arboretum as well. The Arboretum along with the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council and Ambler Campus leadership are working on addressing the problem on campus. If you are finding this is the case at your own home there are solutions.
The Audubon Society has made recommendations and provides guidelines for what you can do to your windows to help prevent bird collisions. You can place curtains or blinds in the windows and close them whenever possible, fasten screens to the outside of the window, affix decals to the outside of windows (no, not a hawk or owl silhouette, those will not work), or install a specific bird-strike window treatment.
My home office looks out large windows into the woods behind my house and I was shocked to hear how many birds were flying into the windows as I sat at my office desk. There were only a couple of birds I had to carefully rescue and assist in their recovery; many others flew away.
Whether or not they were unharmed or suffered some sort of permanent damage I will never know. I plant my landscape for the wildlife. I encourage them into my yard with feeders and plants. This means I have to adapt my home so I do not injure them. In my opinion my view is not worth the lives of birds. I have many birds nesting in my gardens. Right now, I am enjoying watching a Carolina Wren family and an Eastern Wood-Pewee raise their families in the habitat I call my yard. The last thing I want is for one of these birds raising young to fly into my windows and as a result have a family of birds not succeed.
So, my DIY project for this past weekend was to apply a treatment to my windows that would hopefully stop birds from flying into them. As you can see in the first photo the glass in my windows acts like a mirror of the woods behind them. This looks like the safety of trees to birds and so they fly to them only to be met with solid glass.
The idea of a window treatment is to break up the glass so the reflection is less likely to appear like something they can fly to. I purchased window clings from a business on Etsy designed for this purpose.
Below you see the comparison of the view out the window with and without the window clings attached and you see how these particular window clings create rainbows through their prisms when the sun hits them in the morning. I know this look may not be for everyone, but rainbows and shiny glowing objects make me smile and right now we can all use more smiles, right? So that is what I chose to install. There are many options out there ranging from inexpensive and relatively easy to install to expensive and more complicated.
We are on the tail end of the spring migration now so there likely will not be as many birds in your yard as there were earlier in the spring but there is another migration this fall. Since the 1970s, populations of birds have been in decline for a number of reasons. Let's do what we can to support these important, beautiful and entertaining animals by planning and planting for them.