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Are Your Windows Deadly to Birds?

Bird sitting on glass roof
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For many homeowners, it’s an all-too-common occurrence: birds flying into your windows and patio door glass. Your first instinct may be to think “What’s wrong with this bird? Why does it keep flying into the glass?” Some people might think it’s because the birds don’t know any better, but the problem usually is much more serious. That’s because when birds are flying they’re looking at the window, not through it. They see the reflection of their surroundings, such as the sky and trees, and not the glass. The birds may think they have a clear flight path, but, in fact, at least half of the birds who strike windows die from their injuries or because another animal killed them while they were down and unable to escape.

Another concern is what’s known as territorial aggression. This happens when a bird sees its own reflection in a window and attacks it to protect its own territory, believing the reflection is another bird. This behavior is most common during breeding season and, while it isn’t always harmful to the birds, it can be a concern to homeowners.

The main problem, however, is the issue of birds flying into the glass. This is something that happens year-round across many parts of the U.S. and in Canada, but is most common in migration flyways, along coast lines, in the Midwest and Great Lakes area. The problem has gotten serious in the past few years and the level of awareness has also increased significantly. Many states, counties, cities and provinces have instituted voluntary or mandatory bird-friendly standards or guidelines.

Black Bird on a Glass Roof

In fact, there have been a number of efforts throughout North America to help minimize the number of bird collisions that happen each year. San Francisco, for example, has the “Bird-Friendly Monitoring and Certification Program,” which provides buildings with a pathway to become a “Certified Bird-Friendly Building.” For buildings built prior to 2011, the standards are voluntary, but buildings constructed after 2011 will have to meet the regulations.
Other cities that have taken related measures include Boston, New York, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

What Can I Do?

You may be wondering what you can do as a homeowner to help minimize these deadly bird collisions. Fortunately, there are a number of products available designed for just that, as well as measures you can take that will help make your home and its surroundings more bird friendly.

While there are no window products on the market that can guarantee elimination of bird window collisions, there are a number of products that have been shown to reduce collisions with glass. Here’s a look at some of the options that are currently available.


Replacing your windows with ones that feature bird-friendly glass isn’t an easy, inexpensive fix. However, if you’re already considering new windows, there are a number of options available. But first, it’s good to understand the issues related to traditional glass. Simply put, birds cannot see glass due to its reflective and transparent features. In order to keep the birds from flying into it, the glass needs to offer a visible barrier that doesn’t distract from the overall aesthetic appearance. Some companies now offer glass products that have a patterned, UV reflective coating that is visible to birds, but remains transparent to the human eye.

If you’re already planning a remodel, there are also a number of other products and ways you can help prevent bird collisions. Consider fritted glass. This has closely spaced opaque dots or lines on the exterior surface. This pattern makes the glass visible to birds, and remains transparent so you can still see out.  Likewise, with etched  or sandblasted glass you can have any pattern etched or sandblasted onto the glass. This creates a decorative surface that is visible to the birds, while also allowing in natural light.

You can also angle the glass slightly. As an example, if positioned downward about 20 degrees the glass won’t reflect sky and trees.

Window Films

In addition to glass replacement, there are also window film products. Window film is applied to the windows you already have in your home, which makes it a more cost-effective option compared to window replacement. Tinted and opaque window film products are available, as well as products that have decorative images and details. Clear film products that have tiny details, such as dots and lines, can also help reduce bird collisions.

Tapes and Decals

These unique tapes are designed to adhere to the outside of the window’s exterior. Birds can see it and avoid crashing into the glass. Since the tapes are translucent they still allow light to pass through.

Special decals are also available that can be placed on the window’s exterior. The decals have a coating that reflect UV light. Birds can see this, but humans cannot. Once placed on the window, a glow pattern deters the birds. Decals are available in options such as hummingbirds, butterflies, leaves, and other shapes.

There are also adhesive dot options that can be applied to the outside of the windows to create a frit pattern.

Things to Do Inside and Out

There are also a number of actions you can take inside your house to create a more bird-friendly environment. For example, if you have vertical blinds keep them at least halfway closed. Keep shades and curtains closed when you don’t need to see out the windows or allow in daylight. And, probably the most important thing you can do is to keep lights off at night. If you need them on, be sure to close curtains or blinds.

Also, take a look at the areas outside around your windows. If you have external shutters, keep them closed whenever windows aren’t in use. Likewise, adding an external sun shade or awnings will also help eliminate or minimize reflection and transparency.

What’s Your Next Step?

Finding a dead or injured bird on the ground outside your windows can be disheartening. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help minimize these occurrences. Replacement glass options are available, as well as retrofit products and measures that can help create a more bird-friendly environment. If you’re ready to look for bird-friendly glass products for your own home, can help you find companies in your specific area that can get you on your way to a home that’s literally for the birds.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers has been involved with the glass industry for nearly 20 years and is the editor of USGlass magazine and Architect’s Guide to Glass magazine. Ellen received a degree from Peace College where she studied journalism. Ellen enjoys running and competes regularly in races including half and full marathons. When not on the go, Ellen enjoys reading, wine tasting, true crime shows, and family game nights with her husband and son. Their favorite game is Clue. Ellen also bakes what is known locally as “World Famous Oatmeal Cookies.” Find out more about Ellen on Linkedin.

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