A climate action evanston program

Make Windows Safe for Birds

Give birds and bats safe passage.

More about this key action Item

most recent version posted on:
February 20, 2024

If we invite nature to our yard, let it visit uninjured.

Migrations are a particularly dangerous time for birds, which pass through Evanston in large numbers, risking collisions with windows.  Between 500 million and 1 billion birds annually die in the United Statesfrom flying into windows, according to ornithologists. Window collisions are a leading cause of bird mortality and of population declines for once-common species.

Evanston is a stopover point for around 280 species – and millions of birds – that migrate through Evanston and Chicago, and stop at our lakefront every spring and fall. Tens of thousands of dead and injured birds have been found over the past 10 years in Evanston, at lakefront buildings, high-rise buildings downtown and at residences.

Here are ways to think through which of your windows might be dangerous and which solution work best for you.

Which window is a threat to birds and should be prioritized to be fixed?

Maybe you know a window where birds have hit.  If you have heard a bird hit, other birdsmight have hit as well.  Many times raccoons, gulls and other animals remove or eat dead birds so there is no evidence of a bird casualty.

If you do not know which windows are a particular threat, walk outside your house and look at your windows. Pay special attention to the first three floors.  Here are some likely trouble spots:

  • Greenery, bird feeder or birdbath reflected? Look at your windows from the outside to see which windows reflect foliage, trees, bird feeders or birdbaths. Birds typically land on foliage or feeders and die against windows after takeoff.
  • Fly-through areas. Are there corners, walkways, sunporches or other areas that look as ifbirds could fly straight through?
  • Greenery INSIDE a window. Are there houseplants are insideyour windows?  Birds might try to land onit.

Solutions are EASY and cheap. Which is best for you?

 General requirements:

  • To be effective, solutions – window films, markings – must be applied to the OUTSIDE of the problem window.  Upper stories may be difficult to reach, unless windows can swing open. 
  • Leave no gaps bigger than 4” x 2”. Birds will try to fit between spaces.  This is why decals generally don’t work –birds try to fly between decals and die - unless decals are applied very close.
  • For do-it-yourself (DIY), windows have to be reachable. For unreachable windows, consider hiring window-washers or a handy-person to do it.
  • Sticking or drawing on windows often requires moderate temperatures, ideally 50 degrees or warmer.
  • No matter what solution, monitor for bird strikes afterwards to see if it is working.
Solution: Acopian Blind
Solution: Acopian Blinds
Solution: Lines at Searle, Northwestern Univ.
Solution: Lines at Searle, Northwestern Univ.

Existing buildings.

Solutions are easy and inexpensive. If birds hit your windows, consider:

Long-term solutions

  • Ceramic pen and a ruler: mark lines or make your own design.
  • Tempera paint: your child can make their own design.
  • Hanging chords.
  • Window films with dots, stripes or other designs.
  • Shutters, screens or external shades. For Screens: not covering glass or else taut and far enough from the window that the bird doesn't hit glass.

Temporary solutions

From things on-hand.

  • Masking tape.
  • Soap designs.

What helps or doesn't?

  • Dirty windows can help
  • Decals don't help unless they are very close to avoid gaps.
Solution: Dots and Kellog Global Hub, Northwestern
Solution: Dots at Kellogg Global Hub, Northwestern. Looking outside.

New Building Designs.

  • Follow the Evanston Bird-Friendly Building Ordinance.
  • LEED Credit 55 (bird-friendly).
  • Avoid reflective glass.
  • When Using glass, make it visible to birds, such as fritted or with etched designs.
  • Use external shades, grilles or shutters.
  • Avoid positioning foliage reflected in glass, or behind glass (e.g., on glass balconies or in atria).
  • Use treated glass around green roofs or terraces.
7 days at Northwestern University
7 days at Northwestern Univ., 2017

Lighting

... Remember to turn down or off the lights! Lights off at 11pm, especially during migration. Use light IF, WHEN, and WHERE you need it, and keep it orange-red and minimized. Brighter isn’t safer. See our Lighting page.

Resources

Our Artificial Lighting Doorhanger

Artificial Lighting Doorhanger, NHE. Share at brightly lit buildings to explain why it matters to dim lights.

Go to a pdf of our doorhangerGo to a pdf of our doorhanger

Our Eco-Friendly Yard and Garden Landscaping flyer

Our short guide to get your garden buzzing with life — attracting butterflies, bees, fireflies and birds.

Access pdf file of flyerAccess pdf file of flyer

How to stop birds hitting your windows

How to stop birds hitting your windows, Evanston Roundtable 2023. Which windows, what steps are essential, what solution works for you.

Read the articleRead the article

Our Natural Habitat Newsletter Signup

Sign up for the NHE Newsletter

NHE Newsletter SignupNHE Newsletter Signup

Bird-Friendly Solutions (PPT)

Bird-Friendly Evanston powerpoint on solutions to Bird-Window fatalities. 2023

See the PPTSee the PPT

Evanston Lighting Ordinance

Evanston passed a lighting ordinance in December 2022 limiting outdoor lighting brillance and requiring shading.

Read OrdinanceRead Ordinance

Fix Existing Windows (video): Tempera Paint and Stencils (Fun for kids, inexpensive, and last surprisingly long)

YouTube Video "Prevent Bird Window Strikes with Washable Tempera Paint", 2:06 long, posted in 2021 FLAP Canada

See the videoSee the video

Fix Existing Windows (video): Acopian Blinds: parachords

YouTube Video "Acopian BirdSavers – Prevent Birds from Flying into Windows", 1:11 long, from birdsavers.com. These are also known as "Zen Wind Curtains"

See the videoSee the video

Fix Existing Windows (video): Ceramic Pens and Paint Markers (inexpensive, lasts, and removable)

YouTube Video "Incredibly Simple tip to prevent birds flying into window", 1:32 long, posted in 2017

See the videoSee the video

Fix Existing Windows (video): SOAP! Quick and Easy, and temporary

Toronto FLAP shows quick solution to stop bird strikes

See the videoSee the video

Fix Existing Windows (video): Tips and Masking Tape example

YouTube video "Backyard Birding Tips: Preventing Bird Window Collisions", 4:26 long, posted in 2020, National Audubon Society: Masking Tape

See the videoSee the video

Fix Existing Windows: FeatherFriendly Dot Tape

Website that sells tapes of pre-positioned square or round rows of dots to quickly create a grid of properly spaced dots on windows.

Visit FeatherFriendly's residential customer website sectionVisit FeatherFriendly's residential customer website section

Fix Existing Windows: Fish and Wildlife Service

Threats to Birds: Collisions-Buildings & Glass. Details solutions, including comparative costs per square foot.

Read moreRead more

Fix Existing Windows: Collidescape Window Dots and Patterns

Collidescape offer sheets of dots and patters to peel onto your window.

Visit the CollidEscape websiteVisit the CollidEscape website

Fix Existing Windows: Solyx dots and designs

Website offering window treatments.

Solyx Website for Bird TapesSolyx Website for Bird Tapes

Fix Existing Windows: Bird Screens

Website sells screens to stop bird collisions.

Visit the Birdscreen websiteVisit the Birdscreen website

For New Building Designs: American Bird Conservancy Design Resources

American Bird Conservancy shares brochures on bird-friendly design.

Visit their website's homepage for architects & plannersVisit their website's homepage for architects & planners

For New Buildings: Evanston's Bird-Friendly Ordinance

Bird friendly design strategies to reduce bird collisions and death, including consideration of overall architectural design to reduce hazards, the use of bird friendly materials, especially glass, exterior and interior lighting provisions and consideration of site planning and landscape design to reduce potentially hazardous situations." "

See the City GuideSee the City Guide

For New Windows: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

PDF document "Methods to Reduce Bird Collisions with Glass When Remodeling and Designing New Facilities", 10 pages, dated 11/20

View their PDF documentView their PDF document

You're Needed! Here Are Some Involvement Opportunities

Donating to Climate Action Evanston and earmarking your donation for Natural Habitat Evanston. You can further earmark your donation to one of our initiatives.

Take the Pollinator and Bird Pledge

take the pledgetake the pledge

Join our Pollinator Pledge and let the city and landscapers know we care about sustainable yards. Take an optional yard sign to spread the word.

Join the Natural Habitat Evanston Newsletter

subscribesubscribe

Stay updated on green goings on in Evanston, workdays, advocacy issues and more.

Buffalo Grass Anyone?

Buffalo GrassBuffalo Grass

$25/bag to local residents (pickup; no shipping). We also have some $5 seed packets of bottlebrush and little bluestem grass. While supplies last. Emails should include your phone number and which species you are requesting. Pay by check payable to Citizens’ Greener Evanston at pickup.

Volunteer at plantings and invasive removals: parks and schools

Outdoor workdaysOutdoor workdays

Help at outdoor workdays

Join No Mow May

No Mow MayNo Mow May

Rethink how you Lawn

Sign on: Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library

Sign onSign on

Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library. Mudd Library accounts for over 14% of bird deaths and injuries on campus each year. Applying patterned window film to a portion of the building would dramatically reduce collisions that are fatal to birds.

More Ways to Volunteer: Spread the word

Email usEmail us

Share out brochures, doorhangers, or flyers. Collect a bunch of materials on the 5th Ward Tree Giveaway, Pollinator Pledge, Eco landscaping, Yard care, Light pollution, Leaf blowers are an eco-disaster, or Buffalo Grass.

Join our Facebook Group

NHE FB GroupNHE FB Group

Get updates and share your thoughts on our FB Group. You can also check out our FB page here https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHabitatEvanston

More yard signs: Mowing, Leaves, Leafblowers?

2-Sided Yard Sign2-Sided Yard Sign

Just want to spread the word on certain steps? Mow Less-Leave Leaves (2-sided yard sign) or Leafblowers sign

Join the Isabella Woods Newsletter

Isabella Woods NewsletterIsabella Woods Newsletter

Get news the next time there is a threat to Isabella Woods. (Only sent when there is news.)

Certify with National Wildlife Federation

Certify now with NWFCertify now with NWF

Provide Food, Water, Shelter, Places to Raise Young and Sustainable Steps for wildlife. It helps Evanston maintain its NWF Community-wide Wildlife Habitat certification.

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