Can You Stop Birds Hitting Windows?

A question from a visitor about how to prevent birds hitting windows:

From Jeanette:

They smash into our windows, but I'm wondering if something in the bird feed is causing them some confusion.

This year has been much worse than others - and today is bad. Other times we'll find a weak bird that may not have hit the glass, and takes a few hours to finally die.

I'm afraid we are doing something to cause all this.

Lots of windows and reflections in the glass, we don't clean the feeders often, lots of different types of birds and often a new species shows up for a couple days and gone again.  Thanks

(It is very important to keep feeders clean to prevent disease.)

This is how to clean feeders.



Why are Birds Hitting Windows?

Thanks Jeanette for asking about this very disturbing occurence.

There are 3 Main Reasons Birds Collide with Windows?

1. Bird strikes are most often caused by the windows reflecting the scene opposite them. This could be the sky, trees, shrubs where they think they can land, rest and get food.

Windows create a false picture for the wild birds making them think their world keeps going. Windows which are tinted, mirrored or just plain glass cause big problems for wild birds.

2. A huge problem exists in cities with all the high-rise structures. At night in all cities, well lit windows of tall buildings cause many fatal hits. Birds see the lights of cities while flying high at night and are drawn in. Often flying right into the light source, but unfortunately there is a very hard surface that stops them.

One billion birds are killed throughout North America alone each year by hitting windows.

3. During spring, in the height of mating season, males will often think their reflection is a rival male. I have seen this behaviour in Robins and Cardinals in particular. This is the most common reason some people report one bird striking their window over and over. This does not usually cause the bird as much harm as striking the window in full flight.



Wild Birds During Mating Season

I have witnessed for two years now a male Cardinal attacking our van.

It is parked in a location where the slightly tinted windows create a clear mirror effect.

A male Cardinal each spring hovers around our vehicle hopping on the side mirrors and pecks away at the windows.

He also hops across the hood letting that bird in the windshield know that he is not happy to have the intruder in his territory!

I have not witnessed any injury to this bird and I am assuming it is the same bird each year.

He must be very annoyed with this persistant interloper, because no matter how many times he tries to get him to move on, he stays put!


How can I Prevent Window Strikes?

In residential areas:


  1. Feeders (learn more about types of feeders here) placed close to windows 1-2 feet from window pane, can help birds focus on something closer than the object they see reflected in your glass window. They may still strike the window but because they are not traveling as fast, will not hurt themselves as severely.

  2. Best to move plants inside your home, away from windows so that birds don’t try to reach them for a place to perch or eat.

  3. Closing curtains or blinds may help depending on their colour and the reflection created in your specific situation. But in most cases the treatment must be done on the outside of the window to stop the reflection effect. It may reduce occurrences while you work on a permanent solution.

   Prevent Birds Hitting Windows  


Birds Hitting Windows Kills 1 Billion Birds

in North America Alone!

To stop the reflection situation from occuring you will need to put something on the outside of your window.

  • Purchase decals that stick to the outside of the window. But, one decal in the center of a large window will not be enough to stop the strikes.

  • Mount a Window Feeder to the outside of the window. This gives the birds something to focus on in front of the window before they collide with the glass pane.

  • Screens that cover the full size of the window on the outside are available for purchase that are very effective at reducing bird mortality.

In cities:

  • Encourage businesses with large buildings to save money on electricity and birdlife by turning off their lights between dusk and dawn. 
  • There are also different types of window treatments that can be applied to prevent the mirrored effect.

  • This organization, FLAP, provides consulting for window treatments to prevent strikes before and after construction.

Is there an organization in your area?


Hitting the Streets with FLAP!

FLAP stands for Fatal Light Awareness Program. This program takes place in Toronto.

This video demonstrates how volunteers in the city of Toronto patrol the streets around tall buildings in the early morning hours and during the day. Their purpose is to find and help injured birds who have hit the city's windows, especially during migration season.

You can get involved in your own city or town by finding out if there is a program to save the birds from window strikes.

If there isn't a program where you live you may want to investigate how one might be started. Here is a list of organizations across North America that have programs for saving birds from striking city windows.


   Bird-Safe Links   





What Can You do When You Find a Bird that has Collided with a Window?

Don’t leave a bird alone that is lying dazed or blacked out from striking a window. Birds are very vulnerable to attack in this situation from cats, racoons, birds of prey or other larger birds.

Place them gently in a box with a lid or a paper bag. Place a twig in the bag or box to give the bird something to hang onto when they revive.

Do not feed them or give them water.

If the weather is good and you can keep an eye on things put them in a safe place inside the container you have provided. But if it is cold or stormy outside bring them inside until they revive.

When they revive, take them outside and let them go, preferably near a tree that is not in view of the window they just hit.

If the bird is too badly injured to release it, search for a wildlife rehab center in your area and call them.

Deal with your window! Put something on the outside immediately to prevent birds hitting windows of your building. Look at the solutions given above and the list on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site.

It is important that each one of us take responsibility for this disaster of birds hitting windows that kills 1 billion birds in North America alone each year.


People have created this situation of birds hitting windows causing high bird mortality.

Therefore, it is ours to fix.

There is another way people are responsible for even higher bird deaths & it is easy to fix!


How To Fix Backyard Bird Feeding Problems Here
& In Right Column:

  • Pests at Bird Feeders Understanding all the pests that come to bird feeders and bird houses is essential before success at controlling them is possible.
  • Baffle the Squirrels! This is often the bird feeding problem people deal with the most often. Most backyard bird watchers will have to go to war with these four legged ones at some point. There are many solutions. Discover them here.
  • #1 Backyard Predator? Many people think of "birds of prey" as the number one enemy of backyard birds, but they are not!
  • Bird Feeder Mess! The mess under the bird feeder from the fallen bird seed kills the grass or plants depending on where I put the bird feeder.
  • Birds Hitting Windows They smash into our windows, it is so distressing. What can we do? Discover solutions for residential hits and city issues.
  • Birds Striking Aircraft Is a term that is strictly used to describe a collision between birdlife and an aircraft that usually occurs during take off, but also refers to incidence that happen during flight or landing.
  • Bird Feeding Problems As you probably know if you feed wild birds then you will have to solve some issues. There is lots of help here!

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