Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

How to stop killing birds with your windows – resources for you

Window crashes, also known as strikes, kill millions of birds every migration. While I was in Toronto this week, I saw a newly constructed glass building in the new West Don Lands area that used bird-friendly glass, with dots impregnated into the glass every 8-10 cm (ideally, every 5 cm).  Birds need to see that the reflective glass is not “air to fly through,” so interruptions or obstructions in the reflected light are necessary. This post has a few links to retrofitting windows, but the standard to bird-friendly architecture – do it by default! – is here:  Bird-Friendly Building Design – American Bird Conservancy.

Though we need to carry out this design everywhere, Toronto bylaws require it. Toronto is in the middle of a flyway. There is a push to make bird-friendly design a provincial or general building standard, but it’s only beginning, with all the (energy-expending) glass buildings being constructed, almost as if in a rush before the standard is in place.

Here is a guide on bird-friendly retrofitting your windows:
https://abcbirds.org/get-involved/bird-smart-glass/

And a ready-made solution you can order online and install in little time, from Santa Rosa National, is two rods with brackets and fishing filament between them, at intervals the birds can see – and you can’t.

It amounts to using visual cues, mainly dots, decals, strings, and UV solution, at frequent intervals across the window so that the bird can see it. (And if you have trouble installing it yourself, I will help you.)

Here is a guide about what DOES NOT work:
http://safewings.ca/strategies/what-does-not-work/

American readers, you can support Audubon and the push to standardize bird-friendly building measures and standards in this action alert for the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act. Building collisions kill millions of birds each year. A new bill would help reduce deadly collisions, by incorporating bird-safe building materials and design features into federal buildings.

Also, from the Audubon Society on Twitter: 

More about the West Don Lands mentioned above: the Corktown Common park was a joy to visit. It has a constructed wetland that they seeded well with native species. It has reeds, duckweed, and native water fleur-de-lys, making it a wonderful habitat for birds. I only wish it were larger, but that it is so accessible to wandering humans means they have a chance to see nature they won’t otherwise see. That may whet their appetite for the real thing.

I saw a nesting red-wing blackbird that was feeding his young ones. Or, more like, I saw him arrive with food, heard the cacophony of chirps, and then saw him fly off to get more.

On the walk to the park, we also saw a lone swan nesting, or resting, by a viaduct. It was strange to see that in a “no-man’s-land” off the eastern part of downtown, but as always, it was welcome.

Now, here’s the reason for why I placed a “Continue reading” button for those who came through the archives…a sad photo:

This happened two years ago, in 2014. I found the Canada Warbler around 8:30 AM one morning outside the iconic blue-mirrored Windsor Salt building in Pointe Claire, QC. I’ve also found dead birds outside greenhouses, too. I’m sure many more are found every day. Though Montreal isn’t directly in a flyway, our glass buildings kill more birds than should ever have been permitted by the city.

dead bird Canada Warbler

It’s sad when you find a Canada Warbler dead at the foot of a mirrored glass building.

If you appreciated this blog post – though really, it wasn’t enjoyable to see a dead bird, so I want to raise enough awareness to get people to install bird strike prevention kits on their windows – subscribe to my mailiing list for DIY projects, Q&As, and more.


Also published on Medium.

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