Cottage Q&A: Bird-safe windows vs the view

A large bay window with a view of greenery and drapes to the sides By Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock

We need bird-safe windows for our cottage. (We have several beautiful picture windows; unfortunately, lately we have had a few birds fly into them.) We would rather not put blinds or curtains on these windows, and stickers will look odd. Do you have some alternate suggestions that would save the birds while still affording us our beautiful views?—Perri-Anne Magerman, Grandview Lake, Ont.

Of course. But here’s the deal: “If you really want to prevent bird deaths, it will entail some…well, I’m not sure if sacrifice is the right word,” says Michael Mesure, the executive director of bird-protection non-profit FLAP Canada. But “compromise” probably is. 

Don’t bother getting blinds or closing the curtains; they aren’t very effective at mitigating the problem anyway. It’s more often the reflective quality of windows, not the fact that birds can see through them, that cause birds to fly into the glass. “And putting something behind, on the inside, doesn’t completely eliminate the reflection,” says Mesure. (Note: the transparent aspect of glass is still deadly for plenty of birds—one reason why glass railings are so dangerous.)

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And forget using those bird-shaped stickers. To make your windows truly bird-safe, you’d have to cover the entire surface with decals, spaced two inches apart vertically and two inches apart horizontally. “That renders the window pointless,” says Mesure.

Assuming you’re willing to spend a little money, CollidEscape, a window film company, has an excellent track record. “It’s one of, if not the most, effective product at preventing bird collisions,” says Mesure. If you want a film that will still allow a perfectly clear view out the windows, choose CollidEscape’s “White” film. Of course, from the outside of the cottage, the glass will appear opaque. We won’t lie—it’s gonna look weird. But an almost-aesthetically-pleasing trade-off is a product called Feather Friendly. “You get a nearly 80 per cent reduction in collisions, and inside looking out, it’s practically invisible,” says Mesure. “The film is basically a long roll of tape that you apply and peel off, leaving behind a series of small dots.”

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You’ll definitely notice these dots, certainly on the first day. But not forever, Mesure insists. “I find that most people say they’ve stopped seeing them by that afternoon. Just give it a chance,” he says. It’s a compromise, right?

This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Got a question for Cottage Q&A? Send it to answers@cottagelife.com.

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