Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sad news. Our house killed three birds.

I was saddened to walk out of the house on Thursday and find a dead bird [waxwing, I believe] near our back door.  Then another around the corner.  And yet another.  I did notice a whole swarm of them flying around while I was on the roof deck, cutting a hole for the chimney for the wood stove. Three of them must of flown too low and struck the house, or more likely, flew into the windows.  Serena has sent me raptor silhouettes to print and stick up immediately on the windows. Do the fake owls work?


  1. My understanding from working on the Boreal Centre is that there is inconclusive evidence for them. But you should try them as a stop gap for now. Give them a call and ask for their opinion of what works a few years on.

  2. Having sometype of picture or silhouette is helpful Shafraaz - anything to break up the window, however birds can then get used to that and think they can get around that "thing that is always there".

    The best thing is something that you probably can't use - but I'm not sure. There are particular types of screens that you put on the outside of the house that actually 'mask' the window - but they probably also shut out light. I'm not that familiar with them but feel that they would likely interfere with the use of the windows for heating. Something to look into!

    The second best thing is to hang three crystals at varying heights over each window. The Crystal hangings have the effect of distracting the birds (so that they are leery and don't come close) and since the quality and aspect of the crystals are constantly changing they are not something that birds "get used to".

    Silhouettes or pictures will work - but only for a very short time as the birds get very used to them being there and begin to feel like they can fly "around" the thing that is "always there".

    Hope I have helped.

  3. Thanks for the comments. We'll be looking into best practices in order to be good neighbours with our birds.

    Maybe now I have a really good excuse to put up crystals in the windows ;-)

  4. Oh, no, I've become anonymous...

  5. Years ago, I had a bird feeder close to the house. Birds kept flying into the window, so I looked at the situation from a bird's point of view. The inside of the house was dark. The window became a mirror which reflected the sky. The birds flew for safety (the sky) and hit the window. I put up white venetian blinds to break up the sky's reflection. This reduced the number of impacts. (I also moved the feeder away from the house.)
    As was mentioned by other responders, hang something reflective like aluminum foil pie plates inside the window and set up a fan. The air movement will make the reflector pivot. This motion warns the birds of potential danger.
    Often birds fly into office towers at night. It is possible they interpret the office lights as openings to daylight i.e. an escape route.
    If the U of A or NAIT has naturalists on staff, they may have other answers.

  6. I have had waxwings fly into my windows as well. I think that in your case it is a combination of coated windows and mountain ash trees on your boulavard. Waxwings love the mountain ash berries and flock in large group. I have watched them here and when something startles them they suddenly all fly up. Most made it out, but a couple hit the house. I do have the bird silhouettes on the inside of the windows, but I'm not sure that they make a difference. They are hard to see from the outside because of the window coatings. My mountain ash is gone now, and no more birds have been killed. I would try hanging something reflective on the inside, as suggested above.

  7. Serena and Shafraaz, My mind has been wandering again.
    Many of the earth's creatures are very attuned to eyes. Eyes are used to communicate. Some moths, butterflies and fish have false eye spots on their wings or tails. These eye spots distract or scare away predators. Many critters consider the presence of strange eyes to be dangerous.
    A few months ago, you asked for suggestions about repurposing some metal clips left over from the construction. I have a suggestion for these which may help with the bird issue.
    1. Drill a small hole near one edge of the metal clip.
    2. Cut some pieces of the very sticky, shiny aluminum foil tape which is used to seal heating ducts.
    3. Apply this to both sides.
    4. Stick small pieces of black electrical tape to the center of each piece of metal.
    5. Thread fishing line or very shiny wire through the hole you drilled.
    6. Hang these metal "Eyes" in your window, or make a mobil.
    If you use different colours of background tape, you could end up with a conversation piece of art which may also scare the birds.

  8. Thank you all for all the suggestions! We will likely have some shiny things up very soon!