By KatieMcInnis

Bird Safe Windows

It was a warm, late summer day in 2020. Like many people, I was working from home, sitting in my living room, laptop on my knees, coffee at my side. Suddenly I heard a very loud THUNK in the vicinity of our back door. I sprang up and ran to the back of the house. I knew there was only one thing that could make that sound. Something had hit the glass on our back door, something big.

I rounded the corner and felt simultaneously relieved and concerned. Sitting on our porch bench was a perplexed juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. It was obvious that despite the many UV decals attached to the door, it had hit the glass. It sat shaking its head and turning it side to side. I watched carefully. In another minute it was gone, back on the hunt.

Window strikes account for approximately 1 billion bird deaths a year in the US and Canada alone. Any social media group about birds will yield example after example of birds that have hit windows. While some survive and fly away, there are many that do not. For the layperson this is often a unique event, but for those of us involved in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation this is an all too common occurrence. With that in mind, let’s look at resources we can share and ways we can work to prevent window strikes, locally and beyond.

Making Windows Safer at Home

Identify if any windows are more problematic than others. While all windows can pose a problem, there are things that make some windows more of a threat. Windows reflect the world outside, making it appear to a bird that they are flying toward habitat, instead of a solid object. Factors that may make certain windows more hazardous include having food sources nearby, plants visible inside, or large picture windows. 

Any window where you have had a previous strike should be flagged. If you are fortunate enough to not have had any bird fatalities, start by flagging the most reflective windows. When looking for reflections try to look at various angles, heights, and distances, concentrating on areas where you see birds frequently. Even if you don’t see a reflection head on, a ground feeding bird, like a dove, might. Keep in mind that as the sun moves reflections may change.

Quick Fix

Applying a substance  to the outside of the window is one of the easiest ways to decrease collisions. Drawing lines, patterns or pictures with soap or tempera paint is easy and quick. You can wash and reapply as needed. The important thing about executing such patterns is ensuring the lines are close enough together to prevent a bird from attempting to fly through them. To deter all species, including hummingbirds, a gap of 2’’ (5 cm) is recommended1.

UV and Reflectives

Other popular deterrents are UV decals or reflective ribbons. You can purchase these in different shapes or styles. Ribbons move in the wind and are meant to keep birds from approaching windows.The decals work because birds see UV light, so the decals stand out against the glass. However, the decals may not work equally for all birds and generally need to be replaced every 6 months. Like designs made with soap or paint, decals must be placed so that birds do not attempt to fly between them.

Semi-permanent

If you are looking for more permanent solutions, but don’t want to retrofit windows. Shutters, screens and vertical blinds on the outside of the window may provide a happy medium. Closing shutters is ideal if you are not using windows. In addition to preventing collisions they also act to help insulate the home, saving money on cooling and heating2. In more clement weather, screens can be used to help protect birds from injury. When the bird hits the screen it acts as a cushion, and the bird bounces off. Acopian Birdsavers (Zen blinds) are another window accessory that are effective and gaining popularity amongst bird enthusiasts. The blinds are made of paracord spaced closely together. Birds actively try to avoid the strings as they would a stick in their environment.

Windows in your Community

Keeping birds safe doesn’t just take place at home. Working in your community to prevent window strikes is essential. This can be as simple as ensuring decals or other deterrents are placed appropriately on your work building or as involved as advocating that your building follows bird safe guidelines. While it may be daunting to approach the subject with corporate leaders there is value, even to lay people, in ensuring a building is mitigating bird strikes. The value of data in this endeavor cannot be overemphasized. It is one thing to request a business make their building safer, it is quite another to demonstrate the impact of indifference with data, including public relations, monetary, and ecological costs.

While the number of bird deaths attributed to glass is devastating, there are positive changes being made. Some cities now require new buildings to be made with bird safe designs. For building owners in the United States, buildings can be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, part of the certification involving bird safety. The American Bird Conservancy is also working to launch the Bird City Americas program, a program that works to decrease bird loss on many fronts, including glass collisions.

Our bird populations are in decline across the globe. While we may not be able to affect things as quickly or broadly as we would prefer, we can each take small steps to conserve birds in our own community. While this may seem like a small contribution, every bird counts, and moves us toward a better future.

More Reading

Selected Journal Papers

Factors influencing bird-building collisions in the downtown area of a major North American city

Drivers of Bird Window Collisions in Southern South America

Winter bird-window collisions: mitigation success, risk factors, and implementation challenges

Resources on Window Strikes and Prevention

American Bird Conservancy: Glass Collisions

Acopian Birdsavers

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

American Bird Conservancy: Bird-Friendly Building Design

Entre a Vida e o Vidro

Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada

Fire Season Tips

(Part I of a short series)

In areas affected by seasonal wildfires Covid-19 may cause even greater problems this year. In some regions Covid-19 has meant reduction or cessation of controlled burns to help mitigate fires1. Many rehabilitators are functioning with less volunteers, interns, and paid staff. This makes the need for personal preparation even more important. Use the following tips to help get yourself and/or your center ready for fire season.

Make or Review your Plan

  • Think through the steps to safely evacuate yourself, other people, and the wildlife in your care. If you are a home rehabber, don’t forget to include your pets/livestock.
  • Prioritize! Who/what needs to be evacuated first? What can you afford to leave behind?
  • Print out emergency protocols and review them with anyone that will be helping you in an emergency (partner, volunteers, etc.). Keep them in a binder or folder that is easily accessible.
  • Have emergency supplies in labeled containers that can easily be grabbed as you evacuate.This includes rehab supplies and supplies you and your family will need to survive.

Organize Emergency Information

  • Arrange to get emergency fire/weather alerts via phone or email.
  • If you use a phone tree or phone alert system for employees or volunteers make sure all numbers are up to date and people are willing/able to assist in an emergency.
  •  Have multiple copies of licenses and permits in a fire safe, your evacuation kit, and stored digitally in the cloud.
  • If you lose your home or facility have a plan to transfer your patients to others.
    • Prepare press releases for  local media to redirect rescuers to operational facilities.

Do a Facility Check

  • Clear brush and debris from around your facility, cut branches or limbs that overhang the roof or outdoor enclosures, ensure fire lines are clear.
  • Check smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
    • Members can watch a webinar on fire extinguishers on the IWRC website.
  • Make a list of materials or equipment (i.e O2 tanks) that could be hazardous in a fire. Mark these devices on posted fire escape maps. 
  • Ensure all equipment needed for evacuation (i.e. radios, animal carriers) is in working order.
  • Be prepared to shelter in place if evacuation is not required.

Know the Terrain

  • Know where fires are likely to come from.
  • Plan multiple evacuation routes.
  • Maintain up to date downloaded or paper maps; don’t rely on GPS/phones in an emergency.

Have a drill

  • Go through the motions of evacuation, simply walking through your plan will help.
  • Use every day experiences to prepare- know how long it takes to hook up a trailer, put together animal carriers, or catch up animals. 
  • Adapt and improve your plan as you go (i.e. it takes too long to put carriers together? Use pillow cases instead!).

Works Cited

  1. Phillips C. Covid-19 collision with 2020 fire season will ignite multiple threats. Union of Concerned Scientists, May 11, 2020, [accessed July 6, 2020] https://blog.ucsusa.org/carly-phillips/covid-19-collision-with-2020-fire-season-will-ignite-multiple-threats

Wildlife Rehabilitation Organizations Come Together for Week of CE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 7th, 2017

(Anaheim, CA)Since 1982 the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) has been dedicated to improving and promoting the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and its contributions to preserving natural ecosystems. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) established its Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation class in 1984 to bring science-based education to rehabilitators worldwide. For many years both organizations have worked to disseminate knowledge, improve standards of care, and promote the conservation of wildlife. Now for the first time, we are coming together to provide a full week of continuing education for our members.

We are excited to announce that IWRC will be holding its Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation course at the upcoming NWRA Symposium in 2018. This two day course has been taught around the globe to wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, and biologists. The course registration includes a half-day lab as well as a copy of the new book, Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Comprehensive Approach! This course will be taught by former NWRA Board member and long time IWRC instructor Renee Schott, DVM, CWR. Come early for the IWRC Basic Course, February 26 and 27, then spend the rest of the week learning and networking at the NWRA Symposium! NWRA members receive the IWRC member rate for the Basic Course and IWRC members receive a 20 percent discount on the full week NWRA Symposium registration providing they book before February 16, 2018. For more symposium information, follow this link NWRA Symposium 2018. Registration for the IWRC Basic Class opens in November.

 

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Media Contacts: IWRC Kai Williams director@theiwrc.org @malkahkai @theiwrc 866-871-1869 x1

NWRA Molly Gezella-Baranczyk nwrasymposium@gmail.com (320) 230-9920

PDF of IWRC/NWRA Press Release

ABOUT THE ORGS

The NWRA was born in 1982 at the first National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium in Naperville, Illinois. The rich diversity of expertise and interest represented at the symposium provided a firm foundation for a national organization designed to meet the needs of wildlife rehabilitators. As the mission statement says , NWRA is “dedicated to improving and promoting the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and its contributions to preserving natural ecosystems.”

Incorporated in 1975, the IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and protection worldwide.