posted January 7th, 2008; last edited January 7th, 2008 –– David Sibley

More Bird-friendly Window Treatments

Just a quick update on my window-collisions research:

I’ve heard from several more people who have tried the highlighter with pretty good success.

Continuing my own experiments here I’ve had over a month of 100% success with an array of monofilament stretched between two wooden boards outside the window. The monofilament is suspended a couple of inches in front of the window in vertical lines about three inches apart. It is very inconspicuous from inside, and has worked perfectly under some very busy conditions. I have some other experiments lined up to try, including a more streamlined version of the monofilament.

I also wanted to pass along a very promising suggestion from Diane Salter of Canada, who says:

Attached is a photo of something I’ve been using on my windows which is very effective. My house has windows totally covering front & back. Most of the windows I netted (as I have wooden frames) but that was impossible on sliding doors & the very high upper windows.

This is the clear (with patterns) wrapping that stores use for gift packages. It sticks by static (on the inside) & can be removed easily by just pulling it off. I found that the light coloured patterns work best. It makes a visible barrier & doesn not block your view out the window altho not as beautiful (or deadly) as clean sparkling windows. It comes in big rolls, around 40″ wide & a roll will do lots of windows. My house has 36 major windows + 2 sliding doors & I had plenty in one roll. It needs replacing every couple of years as it starts to lose its grip.

It really does work. I rarely have bird strikes & when I do it’s only a glancing blow. Currently I have 80+ redpolls, 100+ juncos & numerous other species at my feeders.


Finally, to report some negative results, about four weeks ago I tried drawing vertical lines on the outside of the glass with a black permanent marker, but that had no effect – still lots of collisions. It might work in some situations, but not here.

11 comments to More Bird-friendly Window Treatments

  • heidi

    I never did ask how far apart your lines were – I tried standard 1" masking tape vertical stripes every four inches and still found that panic flights (common in winter due to accip. presence) would still leave a few critters dead. Not as many as before of course, but still..

  • David Sibley

    The lines I drew were about 3" apart, and I think Klem's research showed that lines 4" or less should be effective. One of the interesting observations in his June 2009 paper was that a collision happened at a window covered with CollidEscape film, which suggests that birds might fly into anything! The panic flights you mention are probably going to be an issue with any window covering.

  • heidi

    Heh, yeah. I worked at a zoo that lost a panicked bird on occasion due to flying into solid surfaces (eg, brick wall, wooden fence, a tree trunk), which suggests that panic flight is just that – panic without much thought or direction (or perhaps ability to control it?)

  • Lynn

    Thank you for this.

    Would you mind telling us if you use colored or clear monofilament?

    Thank you!

    • I used very heavy (50 lb test) light blue monofilament, but I suspect any weight and color would be obvious to the birds and would work just as well. And I’ll put up a new post soon about the Acopian bird savers, which is a professional product very similar to my makeshift version. Check them out here http://www.birdsavers.com/

  • Thank you so much for your quick reply!

    We’ll be making our own today. I read somewhere that birds are even repelled by the clear version so, at the risk of experimenting on our little friends, we may try that and report back.

    Thanks again!

    • Unfortunately, the experiment is not working. Will be getting colored monofilament or bird netting today!

      • I’ll be very interested to hear about your experiment and all the results if you have a chance to report that here. Thanks!

        • The clear line didn’t work, but it also was only about 20-lb line. It was an instantaneous failure. Moving the feeder next to the window resulted in 0 hits, as far as we can tell. But…

          today a beautiful Cedar Waxwing repeatedly attacked the window – over several sessions. He even walked into the house seemingly looking for the ‘other bird.’ He wore himself out and is now easy prey. So the sheet went up again.

          New Plan:
          Create a frame to sit about 3″ from the window. Attach clear shower curtains to it, so we can see light and also observe how the different birds respond.

          The reflection is distorted in the shower curtain, so we’ll see whether the Waxwing comes back.

          We’ll also see if the Pine Siskins and Godfinches and Nuthatches fly into the ‘blue sky’ of the shower curtain. If so, at least they won’t hurt themselves.

          And we’ll be able to move the feeder back in the tree, which is 5-6′ from the house. They seem to feel safer under the foliage – eating more than look out for predators.

          • The project is too big (we have lots of very large windows), and the waxwing is calming down a bit, so the experiment is off. (Sorry, I would have just deleted the old post, but am not seeing an option to do so.)

            He was a stubborn gus, though! Flew around to the other sides of the houses looking for that bird!

            Thanks for all the info you offer us!

  • Adriane Solkowitz

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