Ensuring Your Windows are Bird Safe

By Jenny Holt

Have you ever walked into a window not realizing it is there? If not, no doubt you’ve seen the funny videos on YouTube or on a TV program. To see a person walk into a window can be quite amusing, but that is harmless compared to birds hitting windows, often at great speeds.


For us, it’s a case of not paying attention or of the window being so clean that it is almost invisible. However, for birds on the outside trying to get in even a clean window presents a danger because they can seem worse than invisible. This is because they can reflect the nature outside, making it appear to be a continuation of the garden, sky, woodland and so on, so the bird flies in at full speed not realizing they are about to hit glass.

The Surprising Damage Windows Do to Bird Populations

Every year in the United States up to 1,000,000,000 birds die from flying into windows. An untold number, the vast majority in fact, are lucky enough to be merely stunned by the impact, recover, and fly off moments later. Even if not killed outright by the impact, many birds later perish from internal damage, bleeding, and brain damage.

It is thought that window collisions are adding to grave concerns over general bird population numbers which are on the decline. This is especially true of some species of birds which are both in great decline and prone to accidental window strikes. These include birds such as the Wood Thrush, Painted Bunting, Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, and the Worm-eating Warbler among others. It might not be a surprise to learn that big cities, especially those with high rises and skyscrapers are the most dangerous for birds. As light reflects off the glass, it is easy for them to mirror the sky and give the appearance of a continuum. In fact, 56% of all window strike bird deaths happen with buildings over 11 storeys high. To put this in context, skyscrapers of this height only make up 1% of buildings in the United States.

How to Make Your Windows Visible to Birds

Some cities such as New York and Toronto have instigated legislation designed to reduce bird strikes on skyscrapers and other buildings. The aim is to prevent windows from being lit in such a way as to make them seem like continuations of the sky. These and other cities such as Chicago, have also brought in new bird friendly construction and development guidelines to ensure new windows and structures factor in bird friendly windows.

There are a range of possibilities for improving your home or business property to reduce the chances of window strikes. These range from types of glass to use to some small hints and tips for people to do at home. First, let’s look at glass types:

  • Angled Glass: If glass is installed at a 20 degree downward facing angle, they will not reflect the sky or trees.
  • Fritted Glass: These contain closely spaced dots of opaque glass fused onto the glass’ outer surface. Humans can still see through them, but birds notice the dots and therefore see the glass.
  • Etched or Sandblasted Glass: Similar principle to above in the fact it disrupts the glass’ reflection enough to ward off birds from flying in that direction. Best used for smaller panes of glass.
  • UV-reflective Glass: Still transparent to humans, but this kind of glass is also visible to birds and lets them know not to go in that direction.

It is also possible to make some changes to the outside of windows. Organizations such as the Humane Society suggest ideas such as:

  • Decals and wind chimes
  • External shutters like Venetian blinds
  • Tape Strips
  • Year-round bug screens
  • External shades and awnings
  • Whitewashing unused windows

Also consider these ideas at home:

Changing your home interior: Consider having vertical blinds with them usually closed or halfway closed or use shades and curtains. At night, when the lights are on, either have the curtains closed or the blinds closed.

Your garden layout: if you have bird feeders, why not move the away from the windows so they are at least 30 feet from the house or within 3 feet so a bird launching themselves off the feeder and into the window will not hurt themselves too much. Same rules apply for bird baths.

Bird Safe Cleaning

Naturally, it is good to have clean windows and clean areas where birds might come into contact. As previously discussed on this site, it is important to use safe and natural cleaning products. When cleaning external areas instead of using chemicals like bleach and detergents or antibacterial sprays linked to bird infertility and deformities, consider using vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water. Grapefruit seed extract is a relatively new and effective alternative to disinfectants too.

For cleaning windows, if you are not hiring a professional window cleaning service, consider using 1 cup of white vinegar mixed with 1 gallon of water then apply the mixture using a spray or linen cloth. Cleaning will make your windows easier to see through but if fixes such as those suggested above are not considered, then this can make a window strike more likely. These tips, however, are also if you keep birds indoors and do not want to affect their health by using chemical cleaners.

How to Care for a Bird who has Flown into a Window If a bird does strike your window at home or at your place of work, but is still alive when it falls to the ground, you can take some steps to looking after them. The bird will naturally be dazed and may have suffered internal as well as external injuries. If it is carrying its wings properly and is able to perch on a branch or fence properly, then it will most likely be ok and be able to sort itself out after a few minutes. At this time, just make sure no cats get to it.

On the other hand, if you do find noticeable injuries or the bird is not capable of perching under its own steam, then place it carefully into a dark container, like a box. Some peace and quiet will help the bird relax a little or will at least reduce stress. If there are broken parts like wings or legs, the bird will need surgery within an hour if it is so survive so you will need to take it to your local veterinarian hospital or a rehabilitator. Do not handle the bird or try to help it yourself – migratory birds are protected species and only professionals have the training and permits to do this. However, it is ok to open the box every 15 minutes or so. If the bird flies off, then it is likely to be ok.

Further Reading







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U.S. Department of Interior

At-a-Glance Report on U.S. Department of the Interior Youth Engagement Priorities and Accomplishments

TO: Department of the Interior Beat Reporters
FROM: U.S. Dept of the Interior Communications Office
DATE: December 2016
RE: DOI Youth Priorities and Accomplishments

Tomorrow, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will make a major announcement in Austin, Texas related to the Interior Department’s efforts to inspire millions of kids to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. Through investing in opportunities to get young people outside, Interior is bridging the growing disconnect between kids and nature and engaging the next generation to be stewards of our land, water and wildlife.

For the long-term health of our economy and our nation’s public lands, it’s critical that we work now to establish deep, meaningful connections between young people – from every background and every community – and America’s great outdoors.

Today, approximately one third of Interior’s more than 70,000-person workforce will be eligible to retire within five years, and a new generation of wildlife biologists, park rangers, scientists and other professionals must be ready to care for our nation’s public lands and waters. To ensure that they are, Interior has invested time in developing meaningful and deep connections between young people and the outdoors so that we’re growing the next generation of conservation leaders, outdoor stewards and caretakers of our one shared home.

For reporting purposes, here’s a snapshot to date of Interior’s priorities to invest in the next generation:
Established Play, Learn, Serve and Work a Youth Initiative and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps

‌• Interior launched the youth initiative Play Learn, Serve and Work as its overarching approach for bridging the growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors in 2014.

  • Under “Play, Learn, Serve, and Work” outside on our public lands and waters, the goals were to:

◦ Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.

◦ Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation’s K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature’s classroom, Interior is developing and strengthening new online education resources to reach more students.

◦ Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the current volunteer numbers. Many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate them. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, a renewed emphasis will be placed on volunteer coordination and management.

◦ Work: Develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work and training opportunities to young people and returning veterans within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, the Department aims to raise an additional $20 million from private and corporate donors to support youth work and training opportunities.

‌• Collaborated with seven departments to launch the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), a national effort to put America’s youth and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing public lands

  • Built on existing partnerships with youth conservation corps

◦ Created and funded tribal youth conservation corps with 5 tribes in the Gulf States

  • Participants received valuable training and work experience while accomplishing needed conservation and restoration work on public lands, waterways and cultural heritage sites

‌• Built Public-Private Partnerships to Fund the Next Generation of Outdoor Stewards

  • This includes existing partnerships with companies like:

The North Face

◦ American Eagle Outfitters

◦ Coca-Cola

◦ American Express

◦ Thule

◦ Backwoods

◦ CamelBak


  • $8 million designated through the RESTORE Council, which will help ensure that this program model is supported and replicated long after our departure in restoration efforts throughout the Gulf Coast
  • Engaged diverse, low-income, underserved and at-risk youth, as well as returning veterans through opportunities like partnerships with Team Rubicon
  • Interior helps federal land management agencies meet their missions by leveraging existing resources to carry out cost-effective natural and cultural resource protection and conservation projects

Invested in Cross Agency Outdoor Stewardship and Generational Awareness Programs

‌• Administered the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Outside Campaign to localize our play, learn, serve and work vision to major cities across the country.

‌• Launched the Every Kid in a Park program to encourage kids and families to visit outdoor spaces by providing one year of free access to federally managed lands and waters – more than 2,000 sites in all

  • Introduces fourth graders to public lands in their backyards and beyond at an important age for comprehension, understanding and values assessment
  • In the program’s first year:

◦ More than a million visitors to the everykidinapark.gov website

◦ Over 2 million free park passes downloaded for 2015-2016

  • Educators and community leaders can access educational activities, field trip options, information and tools in English and Spanish, and have the ability to print passes for their classrooms

Through print and digital distribution of Every Kid in a Park resources, reached virtually every fourth grade class in the United States and more than half a million parents nationwide

  • Nearly $4 million was spent or committed to transportation support to bring fourth graders to federal lands and waters – including organizations like:

◦ National Park Foundation

◦ Outdoor Industry Association/Outdoor Foundation

◦ The North Face

◦ National Park Trust

◦ National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

◦ Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation

◦ Google

‌• Introduced a streamlined permitting program for organizations working with under-resourced youth, reducing one of the most significant barriers groups face when planning extended, over-night experiences on public lands for young people
‌• Launched a first-of-its-kind international mentorship program for young professionals working in conservation fields at the 2016 World Conservation Congress

‌• Created the Centennial Youth Volunteers: A partnership between The National Park Service (NPS) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to build a larger constituency for the National Park System by increasing capacity for the Volunteers-In-Parks Program at NPS units across the service. 70 young adults ages 18-35 were recruited and trained in 2015 to help to facilitate volunteer opportunities and community engagement at diverse selections of parks and 110 in 2016.

‌• Supported the Arctic Youth Ambassadors by providing opportunities to volunteer with the Arctic Youth Conservation Corps, speak about their experiences, and advocate for action to protect their homes

  • The Arctic Council promotes cooperation, coordination and interaction among eight Arctic nations to discuss issues such as global warming, sustaining communities and protecting wildlife to preserve the global Arctic.
  • To increase outreach and education during the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and its nonprofit partner, Alaska Geographic, worked with the U.S. State Department to create a truly innovative program known as the Arctic Youth Ambassadors Program to bring together youth with a committed interest in the future of Alaska.
  • The program includes 22 students, ages 16 – 20, from 16 Alaskan communities who educate the public about the challenges Alaska faces and voice fresh ideas for solutions
  • Participants attend trainings, summits and meetings with high-level government officials
  • Interior encourages the Ambassadors to share their stories with DOI via blog posts on doi.gov, including the below:

◦ Reth Duir

◦ Keemuel Kenrud

◦ Esau Sinnok

◦ Jannelle Trowbridge

◦ Macy Rae Kenworthy

Continue to support bureau-level programs for youth engagement, such as:

‌• NPS Educational Portal

  • Offers more than 1,000 materials for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides

‌• BLM: Take it Outside

  • Provides opportunities for young people to engage in outdoor recreation, non-formal education, and volunteer projects

‌• Indian Affairs Youth Programs

  • Native One-Stop provides tribes, American Indians and Alaska Natives with information about scholarships and services available across the Federal government
  • Climate Change Youth Program offers climate change curriculum, educational groups, internships, and programs to help tribal youth gain a sense of empowerment to address climate challenges
  • Generation Indigenous – BIA offers internships and training opportunities in support of the White House’s initiative to address barriers to success for Native American youth

◦ Under the umbrella of Gen-I, Interior has established partnerships to provide funding for investments in Native youth success

Verizon and Microsoft

Department of Education

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U.S. Department of Interior

Secretary Jewell Continues Nationwide Tour Highlighting Nation’s Progress on Conservation, Energy and Tribal Issues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Deputy Secretary Mike Connor and other senior Interior Administration officials will continue on their nationwide tour to highlight progress the nation has made during the last eight years to: protect our nation’s lands, waters and wildlife; restore the nation-to-nation relationship with Native Americans and Alaska Natives; engage the next generation; and invest in sound science to inform decisions related to energy development, conservation and our changing climate.

Tuesday, December 13 
Building a Sustainable Energy Future

Secretary Jewell will announce new steps to support renewable energy, both on public lands and offshore waters. Over the past eight years, Interior has established an enduring renewable energy program and permitted 60 wind, solar and geothermal projects that, when built, could power five million American homes.

Wednesday, December 14
Taking Action on Climate Change (San Francisco, Calif.)

Secretary Jewell will deliver keynote remarks at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Secretary Jewell will discuss the critical role that science has played in the President’s historic Climate Action Plan and offer thoughts on continued need for transparent, independent and sound science to guide policy in the next administration.

Ensuring Healthy Watersheds (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Secretary Jewell and Deputy Secretary Connor will attend the annual Colorado River Water Users Association Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada where they will discuss how Interior is meeting the water challenges of our time by pursuing new, creative ideas and solutions that address the effects of climate change on water resources, improve drought resiliency and long-term water management strategies, and help to ensure stable and secure water supplies for future generations. Secretary Jewell will make an important announcement regarding Glen Canyon Dam.

Thursday, December 15
Engaging the Next Generation (Austin, Texas)

Secretary Jewell will make a major announcement in Austin related to the Interior Department’s efforts to inspire millions of kids to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. Through investing in opportunities to get young people outside, Interior is bridging the growing disconnect between kids and nature and engaging the next generation to be stewards of our land, water and wildlife.

Friday, December 16
Protecting America’s Natural Heritage (Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.)

Secretary Jewell will join Wyoming Governor Matt Mead to celebrate the purchase and permanent protection of a 640-are parcel of Wyoming School Trust Land within Grand Teton National Park. Ownership of the land was transferred today to the National Park Service and was made possible through a public-private partnership involving the Department of the Interior, Grand Teton National Park Foundation and National Park Foundation. The purchase price, half of which came through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, was split equally between the Department of the Interior and the non-federal partners. The lands acquired are integral to the park and are highly valued for their scenic and resource values, providing key habitat for wildlife such as elk, bison, pronghorn, moose, deer, grizzly bears, wolves and sage grouse. Efforts by the Department of the Interior to acquire the property have been ongoing for many years.

Additional logistical details will be provided in the coming days.

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