Birds face a wide range of dangers. Billions of them each year face violent deaths. Concerned individuals point at such things as wind turbines, which in fact do kill hundreds of thousands of birds. But the great majority of bird deaths are caused by cats. And that’s a danger that isn’t going to go away.
The second largest cause of bird deaths is collisions with building windows. Building collisions kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the U.S. alone. As other places have seen glass skyscrapers proliferate, such as in Chinese cites, these collisions have become a major global factor in bird mortality.
There are growing efforts across the U.S. and Canada to reduce bird collisions. Many businesses are taking part in “lights out” programs in which their buildings dim lights during spring and fall migrations. Some buildings now use special glass that birds can see and avoid. Some communities even have adopted ordinances that require bird-friendly glass in new construction. Keeping bird attractants away from windows is another important way to reduce bird strikes. All these measures have been proven to be effective in reducing the number of bird collisions.
Companies sell vinyl film with tiny dots that can be affixed to windows. Both businesses and homeowners have seen substantial reduction in bird collisions with such films installed.
Bird collisions are not a new problem but is one that wasn’t really taken seriously until at least the 1970s. There isn’t much to be done about the greatest threat to birds – namely cats – but how buildings are constructed and operated is something we can control.
Photo, posted December 24, 2017, courtesy of Nicolas Vollmer via Flickr.