It’s that time of year again….birds are returning, nesting, and flying into our windows with a heart wrenching “thud.” Every year close to a billion birds are killed in North America simply flying into glass windows. In the daytime the windows reflect surrounding foliage, and birds don’t realize they are smashing into an illusion. Some birds attack their reflection in a window, thinking it is another bird competing for their mate. At night birds are confused by bright lights and assume they can fly through that interior.
There are various nets and lines that can dangle in front of the windows. I have used decals with success. Windowalert.com has a series of inexpensive ultraviolet decals (hawks, other birds, snowflakes), films and sprays that the birds see, but are transparent for us. The window must be a moderate temperature and clean when the decals are applied. The decals last about six months.
For new construction or replacement windows, consider a UV reflective glass such as Ornilux. It has a chaotic pattern of UV lines painted on a middle layer of the insulated unit. It is completely transparent to us, yet highly visible to birds. Many architects are specifying fritted glass windows; closely spaced dots or other patterns of ceramic fused on the outer surface are visible to birds, but we can see through them. Fritted glass is typically used in office buildings. Chicago has been a leader in making their tall buildings more bird friendly.
Do not forget awnings. They block unwanted sunlight and help block those pesky reflections of foliage as well. Whatever you do, it’s for the birds.
Pamela Heyne, email@example.com, is a Saint Michaels architect. Her forthcoming book, In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical & Convivial Kitchen design influenced by Julia Child, will be out this fall.
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