Early October in South Florida brings more than long, hot days with afternoon downpours. It’s also a time when nature gets on the move. Fall migration is up and running, or flying I suppose, for many species of “northern birds.” Collier County may be one of their last stops before they journey across the Gulf of Mexico or on to the Caribbean! Even if you aren’t a rabid or avid birdwatcher (we have both on staff here at Rookery Bay), you may come across one of these voyagers in an unfortunate location – on the ground outside one of your windows.
Birds may fly into windows not realizing that they are there – or the reflection of vegetation off the window may entice the birds to seek shelter in a sometimes deadly illusion. The windows and doors of the Environmental Learning Center have vegetation nearby and we do occasionally find stunned or dead birds on the ground. Over the years we’ve tried different approaches to dissuade birds from hitting the windows – we’ve tried dark hawk silhouettes and light hawk silhouettes (both more to break up the reflection rather than actually appear like a predator). At home, I’ve had luck with dangling strings down from the top of a window and spaced 3-4 inches apart. The latter approach worked well at home, but wasn’t the most visually appealing so it wouldn’t be a good option for a public facility. So, this year we are trying something new at the Learning Center.
We recently purchased window film stickers (adhere with moisture rather than adhesive so they won’t mark the windows and are easily removed) that have a pattern that fluoresces ultraviolet light that is visible to birds but not to humans. The stickers create a nice geometric pattern to our eyes, but the pattern spreads u/v light across the glass to break up reflections. Unlike many other products, this is designed to be used on the inside of the glass rather than on the outside. The learning center windows are tinted, but the company that designed the product has tested it and found it effective on windows tinted up to 30%.
The stickers have been up for nearly three weeks and we haven’t had any window strikes. Migration is just starting so we can’t really tell if the stickers are working or not – but we’re hopeful that they will make a difference as our fine feathered friends pass through or spend the “Winter” with us. Window strikes can take a big toll on migrating birds and we are doing our part to try to provide them with safer passage. What will you do to help?
By Dave Graff