How to Stop Birds From Flying into Windows

11 minutes

Birds grace our skies with their vibrant colors and melodious chirps, symbolizing freedom and the beauty of nature. Yet, there is one sight that bird lovers and homeowners alike dread – a bird mistakenly flying into a window. Not only is it heartbreaking, but it is also a stark reminder of how human-made structures can impact wildlife in unforeseen ways. So, why do these collisions occur, and what can we do to prevent them? 

It is estimated that up to a billion birds die annually from flying into buildings and residential homes, and almost 75% of all collisions end up being fatal to these avion creatures, according to the American Bird Conservancy and Smithsonian 

In this blog, we will delve deep into the reasons why birds, unfortunately, crash into our windows. From understanding their perception to recognizing certain aspects of window design, knowing the root causes will better equip us to counteract this problem. Moreover, we will offer practical and effective solutions to minimize these unintended encounters. Whether you are an avid birdwatcher, an environmentally conscious homeowner, or simply someone seeking solutions, this guide is here to help.  

Why do Birds Fly into Windows?  

Birds colliding with windows is an unfortunately common occurrence that often perplexes many. One of the primary reasons for these collisions is the reflections windows create. Especially when they are clean and clear, windows can mirror the surrounding environment, like trees and the sky. To a bird, this might resemble continuation of their flight path, causing them to fly directly into the glass. Similarly, transparent windows present another challenge. Birds might notice potted plants or an open sky through these clear windows and mistakenly believe they can fly through. 

During the breeding season, territorial behaviors can also play a role. Some bird species, upon seeing their reflection in a window, perceive it as a rival. Attempting to fend off this imagined competitor, they may repeatedly strike the window.  

Additionally, many birds migrate at night, and the artificial lights from buildings can lead to disorientation, especially during foggy or cloudy conditions. This nighttime confusion, particularly prevalent in urban settings, often results in window strikes. 

Young, inexperienced birds, especially those on their maiden migration, are also more susceptible to such accidents. Moreover, in moments of perceived threats, like the sudden appearance of a predator, birds may see the reflection or transparency of a window as an escape route, leading to unintended collisions. Recognizing these causes is the first step in implementing practicle solutions to reduce such incidents. 

Can a Bird Damage Your Window?

Birds colliding with windows not only pose a risk to the birds themselves, but they can also result in damage to your windows. Here is how: 

  • Chips or Cracks: Depending on the size and speed of the bird, as well as the type and age of the glass, an impact can cause chipping or even small cracks on the window surface. Over time, with changes in temperature or pressure, these cracks can expand, compromising the structural integrity of the window. 
  • Frame Damage: While less common than glass damage, in some cases, particularly forceful impacts might cause minor damage to window frames, especially if they are made of softer materials or are older. 
  • Dislodging or Breaking Window Accessories: A powerful impact could potentially dislodge or damage window accessories like screens, decorative panels, or external shades. 
  • Seal Breakage in Double-Glazed Windows: Modern windows often have double or triple panes for better insulation. An impact could potentially damage the seal between the panes, leading to the release of argon gas and ingress of moisture, which can fog up the window and reduce its insulating properties. 

How to Keep Birds from Flying into Windows?  

Ensuring that our feathered friends are safe and keeping our windows intact requires a strategic approach. Thankfully, various methods can be employed to prevent birds from having unfortunate run-ins with windows. Here are our top recommendations: 

Soap or Tempera Paint 

A budget-friendly and effective solution is to mark your windows with soap or tempera paint. Consider a consistent grid pattern of 2×2 inches, or let your imagination run wild with artistic designs. 

Moving Bird Feeders & Baths 

Bird feeders and baths are wonderful additions to our outdoor spaces, allowing us to see and support local avian species. However, their placement in relation to windows can significantly influence bird safety. By strategically positioning these bird attractions, we can minimize the chances of our feathered friends mistaking windows for open flyways. 

Surprisingly, placing bird feeders and baths close to windows, within 3 feet or closer, can reduce the likelihood of harmful collisions. When feeders or baths are this close, birds approach them at slower flight speeds since they’re landing or taking off. If they do inadvertently fly towards the window, their slower momentum generally ensures that any impact is non-lethal. It’s more of a bump rather than a high-speed collision. 

Alternatively, placing feeders and baths more than 30 feet away from windows is another effective strategy. At this distance, birds are less likely to perceive the reflected environment in the window as part of their immediate flight path. Instead, they’re more attuned to the larger, real environment around them, and thus, less likely to confuse window reflections for open space. 

The zone between 3 to 30 feet from windows can be particularly risky. Within this range, birds can build up enough speed to make window collisions dangerous, and the reflections in the window are more likely to be interpreted as part of their direct flight path. 

Dot Patterns and Specialized Tapes 

There are products specifically designed to prevent bird collisions. Easy-to-use tape products help you create a bird-safe dot pattern across your windows. 

Sunshades and Awnings 

Sunshades and awnings are popular choices for homeowners looking to add aesthetic appeal, increase comfort, and enhance energy efficiency. But beyond these typical uses, these accessories also play a crucial role in preventing bird-window collisions, a growing concern in urban and suburban settings. 

A primary reason birds fly into windows is the reflection of the sky, trees, and other natural environments. It can deceive them into believing they’re heading into open space. Extended sunshades and awnings can drastically reduce the amount of reflective surface on a window. By casting a shadow and cutting down on the reflections, these additions make the window less misleading for birds. Birds often collide with windows when they see through two opposite windows, assuming a clear flight path. Awnings and sunshades can obstruct this line of sight, making it clear to birds that there’s no throughway. 

Acopian Bird Savers 

These are ropes spaced closely and hanging over windows. Their efficacy is highlighted by institutions like the Cornell Lab, which utilizes them extensively.  

Close Blinds 

Closing blinds at least halfway can significantly reduce bird collisions. By doing so, the reflective property of the window diminishes, making it less confusing for birds. Moreover, blinds can break up the clarity of windows, making them more visible as obstacles. Even partially closed blinds can alter the light and patterns enough to deter birds from approaching the window at full speed, offering them a visual cue to navigate away. 

External Screens 

Adding mosquito screens on the outside surface of your windows can significantly reduce bird collisions. It’s vital that they span the entirety of the window for maximum effectiveness. 

Closing Pathways 

One often overlooked reason birds collide with windows is the perceived clear flight path between opposite or adjacent windows in a structure. This transparent corridor deceives birds into thinking they can glide straight through, culminating in unfortunate collisions. To counter this, it’s crucial to disrupt the visual pathway between such windows. This can be achieved internally by deploying blinds, curtains, or shades, which when angled or partially closed, hinder the illusion of an unobstructed space. Externally, screens, nets, or other treatments not only offer a protective barrier but also signal to birds about potential obstructions.  

Furthermore, the use of decorative or frosted window films can obstruct the transparent sightline, making it clear that the space isn’t open. Even simple changes like rearranging interior elements, such as houseplants which might be enticing for birds when visible through both windows, can make a difference. By being aware of these visual pathways and addressing them through thoughtful design or adjustments, homeowners and building managers can establish environments that respect and safeguard avian life, illustrating that even small design choices can significantly benefit our surrounding ecosystem. 

Protective Netting 

Another strategy involves draping netting outside your windows, keeping a gap of at least 3 inches from the glass. Ensure the netting is sufficiently taut to cushion birds before they can hit the window. Opt in for small-mesh netting to prevent birds from getting entangled, ensuring they simply bounce off without harm. For ease of use, consider attaching the netting to removable frames. 

One-Way Transparent Films:  

These films can also offer the added benefit of reducing sunlight influx, potentially lowering your home’s cooling expenses. 

Turn off Lights 

Artificial lighting, especially during the night, can have unintended consequences on bird populations. Cityscapes illuminated at night are beacons for nocturnal and migratory birds, often leading them astray and increasing the risk of window collisions. By understanding the relationship between lights and bird behavior, we can make simple changes, like turning off lights, to drastically reduce these risks. 

Birds, especially those that migrate at night, use celestial cues for navigation. Bright artificial lights from homes, offices, and skyscrapers can confuse and disorient them. Instead of following natural navigational markers, they get attracted to or trapped in beams of artificial light, causing them to circle buildings endlessly and, in many cases, leading to fatal window strikes. 

Turning off unnecessary lights, particularly during migration seasons, is a straightforward yet effective step to minimize bird collisions. Not only does it make buildings less attractive to birds, but it also helps in reducing light pollution—a growing concern in urban settings. Moreover, this simple act is economical as it lowers energy consumption and reduces electricity bills. 

What to Think About When Replacing Windows 

When replacing windows, it’s essential to prioritize designs that deter birds from colliding with them, merging architectural choices with eco-conscious considerations. One option is fritted glass, which comes with embedded small ceramic patterns, making it more perceptible to birds. Similarly, etched or sandblasted windows offer a frosted appearance that curbs reflectivity. A unique solution lies in the use of ultraviolet (UV) patterns; while transparent to human eyes, birds can detect these UV markings, helping them avoid collisions.  

Additionally, the way windows are positioned, especially if they’re tilted slightly downward, can minimize the reflection of the sky—a frequent cause of bird strikes. Beyond the glass itself, the surrounding environment plays a role. If close to bird attractants like feeders or vegetation, windows are at higher risk. Hence, it’s helpful to break up large glass expanses using mullions or by opting for multiple smaller windows. The reflectivity or tint of windows should also be considered, with lower reflectivity being more bird-friendly. Implementing external shading structures, such as overhangs or pergolas, can further reduce the hazards. Moreover, managing light by using windows with built-in shading tech or smart glass can mitigate the disorienting effects of night lights on migratory birds. 

Contact DaBella for Your Next Vinyl Replacement Window Project 

Isn’t it time your home received the upgrade it deserves? With DaBella, you’re not just choosing a window replacement; you’re investing in superior craftsmanship. Our top-of-the-line Glasswing vinyl windows are tailored to fit your unique style and needs, whether that’s a classic single-hung, an elegant double-hung, a versatile casement, the beauty of a garden window, or the expansive view of a picture window. And it doesn’t stop at quality products. Our factory-trained installers ensure a seamless fit, backed by industry-leading lifetime limited warranties. Choose DaBella for your window replacement and watch your home transform. Step into the future with windows that blend style, durability, energy efficiency, and peace of mind. Make the switch today with DaBella by contacting us at 844-DaBella. 


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Steven Shortridge

District Manager

Portland, OR

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