How You’re Killing Birds (and How to Stop)

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photo: Losonsky (Shutterstock)

It’s a tough life out there for a bird, but natural threats like predators aren’t the only reason. Of the three main causes of wild bird deaths, two can be easily eliminated or reduced: outdoor cats and large, bonkable windows.

The other cause – and by far the largest – is habitat loss, which is a more complex issue. To be clear, cat and window deaths pale in comparison to this larger problem. You may be thinking of construction projects that are certainly in the mix. But one of the main causes of human-induced declines in bird populations is climate change our friends at Gizmodo explained it.

What to do about cats

The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that free-roaming domestic cats kill 2.4 billion birds annually with every single cat estimated to kill about 34 birds per year.

The easiest solution is to keep cats indoors, which is also safer for the cat. (House cats live longer on average than outdoor cats). Enclosed “Catios” and reinforced fences can allow cats to spend time outdoors without posing a threat to local wildlife.

If you’re not ready to keep your cat indoors, a good first step might be to use a colorful collar cover these from BirdsBeSafe, making the cat more visible to birds. Research shows that cats wearing these collars are less successful in chasing birds.

What to do against windows

Collisions with glass kill another 600 million birds in the US each year. Some of these occur in commercial buildings, but if your home has large, see-through windows, you can do this as well to help prevent bird injuries and deaths.

Birds don’t fly in those windows because they’re stupid. During the day, the windows often reflect sky or trees. At night, migratory birds can be thrown off course by indoor lights they see through windows, according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Even if they don’t hit the window that night, they can settle nearby and fly into the window during the day. They recommend paying attention to large picture windows and windows that are at right angles to each other (as on two sides of a corner of a building).

Breaking up the glass surface helps, Cornell says. You can do this with soap or tempera paint, or with decals (no need for falconryformed) or With bird ribbon which creates translucent dot patterns on the glass. Sieves or nets can also work. This also includes the normal insect screen that many house windows have anyway, as long as the privacy screen is on the outside it is visible to birds. During the migration season, it may be helpful to turn off the lights to solve the lighting problem.

If you have the opportunity to retrofit, a sunshade or awning can block reflections on the glass. Vertical blinds are also good for deterring birds; Just leave them half open (but still visible from the outside) if you want more light in the room. External blinds can also work and are also energy-efficient.

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