Thom Smith | Nature Watch: Glass causes up to a billion bird deaths annually

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Ellen Hand, a follower of this column writes concerning birds flying into windows, "I have tape with little squares which stick on windows and are unobtrusive (FeatherFriendly by the Convenience Group), but also decals are effective if enough are put on.

Anything which indicates that something is there, since the glass is invisible [to birds]. I gather that most songbirds, when pressed, feel that they can fly through a 2x4-inch space. Every time I read about a house with lots of glass 'to bring the outside in' I cringe, because often those are the places where birds hit on a regular basis."

While we most often know of birds hitting a window while we watch the bird's favorite feeder, even more birds hit windows year round and often go unnoticed because they fly off and die somewhere else, or are quickly removed by a variety of neighborhood animals, be it a crow, skunk, house cat, raccoon, and other four footed neighbors.

The American Bird Conservancy offers information about bird collisions both residential and commercial and steps to prevent it.

"Your house may kill a dozen or more birds each year without you knowing. This may not seem like a lot, but it adds up to as many as a billion birds per year or more throughout the United States. Much of this mortality takes place during spring and fall when songbirds are migrating."

Glass kills between 300 million and a billion birds each year — the majority on home windows.

Birds can't see glass and don't understand the architectural cues, such as window frames, mullions and handles, that help people detect it.

Unlike some sources of bird mortality that predominantly kill weaker individuals, there is no distinction among victims of glass. Because glass is equally dangerous for strong, healthy, breeding adults, it can have a particularly serious impact on populations.

Even small windows can be dangerous to birds that are accustomed to flying through small gaps between trees and shrubs.

The following products will stop songbirds from flying in to your windows. (I have not personally tested these products): www.collidescape.org/abc-birdtape (an excellent portal to ABC) www.birdsavers.com

Thom Smith welcomes your questions and comments. Email him at Naturewatch@live.com or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.

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