With spring in full bloom, there’s so much aflutter in the skies as millions of birds migrate north in their annual pilgrimage to their nesting grounds. At The Humane Society of the United States’ office near Washington, D.C., we have parula warblers and many other avian visitors stopping by on their long flights to their summer homes, and house wrens and others staying to nest.
While birds have an astounding ability to navigate these cross-continental journeys, the buildings and other structures that fill so much of the landscape are often foreign to them—and deadly. Collisions with plate glass windows are one of the most serious threats to songbirds in North America. As many as one billion birds may die from collisions with windows every year, mistaking the transparent glass for open space and often crashing into these solid surfaces at full speed.
Over the years, HSUS wildlife staffers have monitored our buildings and used and tested a wide variety of strategies and devices that are promoted as effective in limiting bird-window strikes. Last month, we completed the installation of special screens for some of the windows at our headquarters.
The screens eliminate almost all of the reflectivity in the glass they cover, causing birds to see the windows as opaque barriers. They are also conveniently removable for cleaning, replaceable, and efficient in helping to regulate building temperatures.
This solution was researched, tested, and made possible by our building maintenance team. It’s a source of pride to me that everyone who works here has the well-being of other creatures foremost in their minds as they go about their work to make the world a better place for animals. We’ve also helped the wild animals around our office building by putting up bird houses, establishing a natural meadow, and relocating groundhogs and other animals from a nearby construction site.
We have a long way to go in addressing the multiple threats that exist to birds. In addition to the devastating toll taken by habitat loss and collisions with glass (and other man-made objects) are problems such as poisoning from pesticides and lawn chemicals, hunting, and predation by free-roaming cats.
You can help birds in your backyard by using this bird-safe window guide and by keeping your cats safely indoors. At our office, we’ll be watching the rush of spring migration, glad to know that we’ve taken another step to help our wild neighbors.