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Bird vs. Reflective Window Tint: A Two-Year Experiment Exploring Methods to Break the Cycle of Bird Collisions with Reflective Windows

Introduction:

(Written in October of 2017)

Bird v. Reflective Window

It was a regular morning, just like every other morning in the office, until THUD--a bird flew into my office window.  Disoriented, the bird flapped its wings trying to get a grasp on what had just happened, only to find itself unable to orient.  Exhausted and stunned, the bird gave up and lay on its side under the nearest shrub.  I could see that its pulse was rapid, so I knew it was still alive.  Knowing there wasn’t much I could do, I decided to just keep my eye on it from a distance.  Within minutes, I began to hear the call of another bird.  Sure enough, two young birds swooped in to check on the disoriented bird.  After about 15 minutes, I went back outside to check on the bird and noticed that it’s breathing appeared to have significantly slowed and I began to wonder if it was still alive. I decided to investigate within a little closer proximity. 

This is when I became aware of the critical situation happening with birds and my office windows.  Upon approaching the shrubbery beneath the office windows, I noticed other bird carcasses in different stages of decomposition, all appeared to have died intact and in close proximity to the office’s reflective windows.  At this moment, all of the mysterious window thuds I had heard throughout the years began to make sense.  I thought to myself, there is a problem here, something is attracting these birds.

bird 1

bird 2

I decided to do some research as to why birds fly into windows.  I wanted to do something to prevent more bird injuries.  It didn’t take much research to learn that reflective glass confuses birds by showing them a reflection of the landscape, thus fooling them into thinking they are flying into a natural setting rather than into a piece of mirrored glass.  This made perfect sense to me, so now I needed to find a way to interfere with the reflections so birds would be less likely to fall victim to this deception.  I found information on reflective prey-bird decals and other methods claiming to be the solution to the ‘bird flying into the window’ phenomenon, but for a more immediate fix, I decided to tape a sheet of white copy paper to each of the office windows where the bird carcasses were found. bird 3 

 

bird 4

I decided to keep checking the shrubs for more carcasses, but remained hopeful that this method would help eliminate the bird fatalities by breaking up the reflective illusion in the glass. 

Updates:

(Later that day)

The bird that hit the window managed to fly away.

(One week later)

I ordered hawk decals from a company called Window Alert and positioned the decals on either side of the white copy paper I displayed the previous week.  

bird 5

Conclusion:

I am pleased to report that it has now been two years since the reflective prey-bird decals and white copy paper were hung in the windows and I haven’t observed one bird/window collision or noticed any bird carcasses in the shrubs.  I think it would be fair to conclude that either the white paper or the reflective prey-bird decals or a combination of both have served as a reliable way to help deter birds from flying into our reflective windows.

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