The fall migration is amazing for birdwatching, but can be deadly to many birds. Millions of avian deaths occur each year due to birds colliding with windows and other reflective surfaces during their migration. To help ensure a safe journey, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages people to make small changes at their home or office to prevent window strikes.
“Birds are a marvel. Each year, some migrate thousands of miles to warmer climes and back again in the spring,” said MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick. “It is always a pity to see that a window, of all things, is the sad end to millions of birds each year, whether migratory or resident.”
Kendrick explained that if a bird has struck a window at a home or office, it is a problem window that reflects either sky or vegetation that a bird believes is a pass-through. Breaking up that reflection can help the bird see it better and know it is an obstacle.
People can place stickers to the exterior side of windows to break up the reflection. Silhouettes placed indoors may be obstructed during certain times of day by glare or outdoor reflections, so breaking up the reflection on the outside of the window is key.
“Many believe that to make their windows bird-safe, they have to completely obstruct their view, but that’s just not the case anymore,” Kendrick explained. “There are many solutions out there today that break up the reflection for our birds in a muted way that still allows for a great view.”
There are numerous products available to prevent bird strikes. The American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Friendly Windows page offers suggestions at https://abcbirds.org/program/glass-collisions/bird-friendly-window-solutions/.
If a bird has struck a window and is disoriented or stunned, it could need a moment to recover. While the bird is especially vulnerable, bringing pets indoors while it can recover undisturbed is recommended.
Missouri’s conservation partners are doing their part to prevent window strikes in the state’s urban areas. Missouri River Bird Observatory’s Director Dana Ripper is coordinating the BirdSafeKC project with Burroughs Audubon Society.
“Certainly no one designs structures to needlessly kill birds and there are a number of cost-effective options for significantly reducing these accidents,” Ripper noted. “In addition to saving many migrants, this is a great opportunity for owners and management companies to inspire others by showing their concern for our native Missouri songbirds.”
Those who have problem windows at home or at a business are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss solutions.
“Many of our birds are in steep decline across North America,” Kendrick commented. “Preventing window strikes is just one small change that we can make in our daily lives right now – cheaply – that will collectively make a huge impact for birds over the long-term.”
To learn more ways to help bird populations, visit 3billionbirds.org.