When a bird hits your window

By Anne Sophie Le Brun Robles Gil

If you have ever heard an odd thump against one of your windows, you may have gone to check out the cause and found a dazed, or even dead, bird on the floor nearby. You may then have wondered why a bird would fly straight into a window.
Well, it is actually a quite common occurrence.
Windows reflect light much in the same way as a mirror. Birds will be able to see what is reflected in the glass, like the sky or nearby trees. In some cases, they may even see what is behind the glass, like an indoor plant. But they will usually not be able to see the glass itself. Birds have even been known to attack their reflections, mistaking it for a competitor.
Unfortunately, these collisions are all too often fatal. In fact, the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a program dedicated to the safeguarding of birds, estimates over 25 million migratory birds die each year in Canada as a direct result of window collisions. This makes window collisions the second leading cause of bird deaths. The only thing that beats windows is cats. Domestic and feral cats are the leading cause of bird deaths in Canada, killing between 100 million and 350 million birds each year.
In cities, artificial lights from buildings and homes can make matters worse. Many species of birds will use the moon and stars to navigate during the night, and bright artificial lights are a source of confusion. Sometimes, migratory birds will get drawn into cities by these lights, which will increase their risk of colliding with a building.
Although tall office buildings covered in reflective surfaces pose a unique challenge for birds, some 90 per cent of collisions still happen against the windows of homes.
So, what can you do to make your home a little safer for birds?
It comes down to making it easier for birds to realize they cannot safely pass through the glass. There are countless creative ways of doing this, such as hanging ribbons or drawing designs with highlighters on the outside of windows, no more than five to ten centimetres apart. The bird will be able to see these ribbons or drawings and will avoid hitting them. If they are properly placed, the bird will not try to pass between them either.
You can also plant trees around the window in such a way as to reduce the amount of sunlight the window reflects.
For more long-term solutions, you can install screens on the outside of your windows. There are also a variety of products that can help, from stickers that reflect ultraviolet light, which birds can see, to window panels specially made to deter birds.
If you have a bird feeder, changing its placement can also help since there will probably be a lot of birds flying around it. There are two main possibilities here. If you place the bird feeder less than half a meter from a window, it is unlikely any birds leaving it will pick up enough speed to hurt themselves should they collide with the window. Alternatively, if you place the bird feeder more than seven meters away and diagonal to a window, the birds are less likely to come near the window in the first place.
If a bird does collide against your window and is on the floor, it is probably dazed or injured. This means it is at risk of predation until it recovers. You can help by getting a cardboard box with a lid and holes punched in it and gently placing the bird inside. You can then put the box somewhere safe, quiet, and at room temperature. Do not give the bird any food or water. The bird might be concussed and is at risk of choking or drowning, even in a shallow dish.
Then, wait for an hour or two. This will give the bird the chance to recover if it is only dazed. You will then be able to bring the box outside and release it back into the wild.
If the bird does not fly off, that probably means the injury is more serious and the bird will need medical attention. The best thing you can do for the bird, in this case, is to contact a wildlife rehabilitation center. The center nearest Sherbrooke is Le Refuge Lobadanaki. Other options are Le Nichoir, near Montreal, and Le Refuge SOS Miss Doolittle, near Quebec City. You can visit their websites to get their contact information.

Share this article