A bird just flew into your window and is lying on the ground, motionless. It’s terrifying, isn’t it? This poor wildlife creature was just going about her business, flying around, and BAM! Suddenly her life may be over and your window is to blame!
I’ve been in your shoes before and remember the panic and guilt I felt. I wondered why the bird crashed into my window, if she was going to be okay, and what I should do.
In a less severe scenario, the bird may be continually hitting your window but doesn’t appear to be injured (yet). Still, why are they doing that and what can you do to help?
I’m no stranger to the birds vs window predicament. I’ve been backyard birding for over 20 years, am an avid participant in online birding forums, and hear this concern ALL the time. The first time I experienced it, I panicked and didn’t know why it happened or what to do. Since then I’ve learned why it happens and what to do about it.
Birds hit windows for a couple of reasons and there are several tactics you can try to stop it. This article will explain why birds crash into windows and what to do about it. In fact, I have 6 proven strategies to share. I guarantee at least one will fix the problem
6 Proven Solutions to Stop Birds from Hitting Your Window
- Move bird feeders to a safe distance.
- Draw invisible lines on the window.
- Hang reflective scare tape outside the window.
- Close blinds or drapes.
- Adhere anti-reflective anti-collision window decals.
- Move outdoor plants toward the window.
- Why Birds Hit Windows
- How to Stop Birds From Hitting Your Window
- 6 Proven Ways to Stop Birds from Hitting Your Window
- Birds Attack Car Windows
- Dangerous Solutions to Stop Birds From Hitting Your Window
- Ridiculous Solutions To Stop Birds From Hitting Your Window
Why Birds Hit Windows
Birds hit windows due to reflection. When wild birds face your window, depending on the angle, they’ll see a reflection of themself or the sky/world around them. It’s like looking in a mirror.
Bird Sees His Own Reflection
In the case of a bird hitting your window, especially during the breeding season, they cannot distinguish their own reflection from that of another bird – especially one of their own species. They instinctually consider this other bird a threat. Since reproduction is the primary goal of all wild birds, they will fight hard against anyone (bird) that poses a threat to that objective.
Many bird species are extremely territorial during mating season. Both the male and female may aggressively defend their territory against other birds as well as predators.
This is where the window comes in. The bird sees his reflection in the window, considers it a threat, and violently attacks. You can witness this behavior displayed by a male northern cardinal in the video above.
The Bird Sees The Sky’s Reflection
As mentioned earlier, the reflection the bird sees in the window can be mistaken for other elements behind them like the sky or just open space. As a result, they just keep flying like they normally would if it truly were open space.
How to Stop Birds From Hitting Your Window
There are a plethora of solutions flying around on the interweb – some effective & safe (e.g. my proven ways), some that are dangerous, and some downright ridiculous & unnecessarily extreme. The ultimate goal is to break the reflection in the window so the bird doesn’t see anything but an object in from of him – like the house.
The best solutions are safe for birds, can be implemented quickly, have little to no cost, and are not invasive (won’t make your windows ugly).
6 Proven Ways to Stop Birds from Hitting Your Window
1. Move Your Bird Feeder
Ensure your bird feeders are within 3′ from the window or more than 30′ from it. In fact, this is a standard best practice whenever you are hosting birds in your yard.
Sound weird? I get that, I didn’t understand this guidance when I first heard of it either.
When a bird hits a window from less than 3′ away it won’t have had time to reach top speed, therefore, incurring little to no injury.
When the feeder is 30+ feet away the bird won’t be able to see a reflection.
2. Draw Invisible Lines On the Window
Using a chartreuse highlighter marker draw horizontal lines about 2″ apart and vertical lines about 4″ apart (Perfection is not important). Birds can see the color but humans can’t. And, the marker can easily be cleaned off with window cleaner. Win-win! Alternatively, you can use a paint marker that can be scraped off.
The easiest way to implement this solution is to use a large level (tool) to draw straight lines and approximate the 2″ or 4″ intervals. Or, if straight lines aren’t your jam, try free-handing it.
3. Hang Reflective Scare tape Outside the Window
Using strips of commercial reflective scare “tape” outside the window immediately breaks the reflection. This product is usually about an inch wide and in varying lengths.
Although it’s called “tape” it’s not sticky. This is a good thing because as they sway in the wind they won’t stick together. To implement, just cut strips of similar lengths and adhere one end to the top of the window while the remainder hangs. You can still see out your window with minimal interference.
4. Close blinds or drapes
You can close your blinds or drapes to get the behavior to stop immediately. If after opening them again the bird continues to attack the window, you may need to circle back to one of the other proven effective & safe methods.
5. Adhere Anti-reflective Anti-Collision Window Decal
There are many commercial products specifically designed to break up the expanse of the glass surface to eliminate reflection.
Many are pretty cool looking – almost appearing like etched glass. You’ll have to experiment with how many you will need. In order to be effective, you may need several to fully break up the reflection – especially for very large windows.
Alternatively, check out your local craft store for cute children’s themed window decals. It won’t be as pretty, but will still be effective.
6. Move outdoor plants toward the window
Many times the offending window is a patio door. With that, if you happen to have potted plants outside the patio door and the cardinal is attacking it, try moving the plants closer to the window to break the reflection.
Birds Attack Car Windows
The solutions above are specific to windows in your home. Birds are also notorious for attacking car windows for the same reasons mentioned but the solution is much easier – move your car.
Dangerous Solutions to Stop Birds From Hitting Your Window
- Hang Fishing Line Strips. A popular recommendation is to hang strips of fishing line outside the offending window. The idea is that the birds can see the fishing line, especially when the wind blows, but humans cannot. The danger is the fishing line is so thin and bendy the bird is at risk of getting tangled in it and getting injured or worse – killed.
- Remove the perch. In addition to being impractical, removing shrubs, trees in your yard may pose a danger for the cardinal. Perching spots allow birds to scope the area for predators and in some cases, hide from said predators. This approach also gets the award for the most impractical solution (who wants to dig up bushes and trees?).
- Bird Netting. Gardeners often use bird netting to keep birds away from their crops. This tactic doesn’t end well for a lot of birds. Similar to the fishing line approach above, the bird can get tangled in the netting and get injured and/or die waiting to be freed.
Ridiculous Solutions To Stop Birds From Hitting Your Window
First, let me preface by saying in the unlikely event one of my proven strategies doesn’t work for you, one of these ridiculous or extreme solutions just might do the trick. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
Here we go – below are solutions others recommend that would not be my first choice in addressing the cardinal attacking my window problem.
- Let the window go dirty. To be honest, I don’t even think this approach will work. Don’t ask me how I know 😉 For those of you who are diligent about cleaning windows, it’s unlikely you would want to let them go dirty – especially if another solution will work. Besides, if you have clean windows when the cardinal starts attacking it, the poor bird will suffer brain damage waiting for it to go dirty. You need a more immediate solution.
- Soap windows. Similar to letting the windows go dirty, writing with soap on your windows strikes me as ridiculous. Who wants to look through a cloudy, marked-up window when there are easier ways? Breeding birds can aggressively attack windows throughout the season so your soapy windows could be there for some time. Eugh.
- Install an awning. If you planned to buy and install an awning anyway, this tactic is cool so carry on. However, I doubt that’s the case. To install a contraption to the exterior of your home is what I consider extreme and costly. Some might even consider this approach an eyesore. This approach also has an issue with timing. Just how quickly can you get this awning purchased and installed?
- Install blinds on the outside. Sure, this fix will work but the wind, rain, and snow will likely destroy the blinds or cause them to swing around and destroy your house! Similar to the awning solution, implement this solution if you already planned on it installing outside blinds. Otherwise, abandon it for an easier fix.
- Cover the window with a tarp or painter’s drop cloth. If ever there was an ugly solution, this is it. Enough said.
There is no shortage of solutions and opinions on the best way to stop birds from hitting and flying into your window. Always avoid dangerous tactics! Implement the ridiculous and costly ones if you have the time and money. Or, do what the rest of us practical folks do, implement one of my 6 proven ways to stop birds from hitting your window. It leaves you with more time to enjoy the birds.