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When installing new windows, ask your contractor about installing them at a slight angle, facing downward. This type of position (a few degrees from vertical) does not affect the view outside, but it causes the outer surface of the window to reflect the ground rather than the trees. For older windows, use plastic or vinyl wrap to break up the reflection.
Place branches in front of your windows, or plant bird-attractive shrubbery, which will cause the birds to slow down so any potential impact is not fatal. Hang screens or netting over the outside of the windows or close the shutters to prevent birds from striking the glass. Draw the blinds when not looking out the window.
Place anything attractive to birds—birdfeeders, water features, or plantings—within three feet of windows, or right at the window. This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually reduces fatal collisions because birds do not have an adequate distance to reach high flight velocity. Placing feeders and other features more than 30 feet from a window may also reduce strikes, because at that distance, birds are more likely to recognize the reflected image is part of the house.
Turn off the lights at night. This prevents the birds from being attracted to, or confused by, illuminated windows. This program has been successfully adopted in skyscrapers in cities including Chicago, New York, and Toronto, but can also be used at home. In addition to helping the birds, this will also help the environment.
If you have a comment about Smithsonian Zoogoer magazine, please email it to us.Smithsonian Zoogoer 38(5) 2009. Copyright 2009 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.