How You Kill Birds (and How to Stop It)
It’s a tough life for a bird, but natural threats like predators aren’t the only reason. Of the top three causes of wild bird deaths, two can be easily eliminated or reduced: outdoor cats and large windows that can be broken.
The other reason – and by far the biggest one – is habitat loss, which is a more complex issue. To be clear, deaths from cats and windows pale in comparison to this larger issue. You can think of construction projects, which are certainly present. But, as our friends at Gizmodo explained, the main reason for the decline in the bird population is climate change.
What to do with cats
The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that free-roaming domestic cats kill 2.4 billion birds each year, with each individual cat killing about 34 birds per year .
The simplest solution is to keep cats indoors, which is also safer for the cat. (Indoor cats live longer on average than outdoor cats.) Enclosed katio and reinforced fences allow cats to spend time outdoors without endangering local wildlife.
If you’re not ready to keep your cat inside, a good first step might be to use a colorful collar like these from BirdsBeSafe , which makes your cat more visible to birds. Studies show that cats with such collars are less successful at hunting birds.
What to do with windows
Glass collisions kill another 600 million birds in the US each year. Some of these occur in commercial buildings, but if your home has large clear windows, you can also help prevent bird injury and death.
Birds don’t fly in those windows because they’re stupid. During the day, windows often reflect the sky or trees. According to the Cornell Ornithological Laboratory , at night, migratory birds can be thrown off course by the interior light they see through windows; even if they don’t hit the window that night, they can nestle nearby and fly in through the window during the day. They recommend keeping an eye on large panoramic windows and windows located at right angles to each other (like on two sides of a corner of a building).
Breaking down the glass space helps, Cornell says. You can do this with soap or tempera paint, or stickers (they don’t have to be in the shape of a hawk), or bird tape , which creates translucent dot patterns on the glass. Screens or a grid might work too. This includes regular insect protection, which many windows of the house have anyway if it is outside so the birds can see it. During migratory seasons, turn off the lights to solve a lighting problem.
If you have the option to upgrade, a sun visor or canopy can block glare from the glass. Vertical blinds are also good at repelling birds; just leave them half open (but still visible from the outside) when you need more light in the room. External shutters can also work and are also energy efficient.