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Bird Silhouettes

In this activity, students make bird silhouettes to prevent birds from crashing into windows.

During the day, reflected light poses a severe threat to birds. Birds can see through glass and what is reflected on glass, but they cannot see the glass itself. Some birds have even been observed attacking their own reflection, believing it to be a competing bird intruding on its territory.

Attracted to the reflection of a landscape that is actually behind them, or to a plant that is on the other side of a window, many birds fly straight into windows and reflective building exteriors. Pollinating birds are attracted to specific colours and may get confused by man-made objects. Putting something up on a window gives birds a signal to avoid it.

At night, it is artificial light from our buildings that endangers birds. Many species of birds migrate at night, using light from the moon, the stars, and setting sun to navigate. The bright lights of our urban areas confuse these birds, especially on foggy or rainy nights when the cloud cover is low and birds fly at lower altitudes.

Turning off lights at night and having downward facing outside lighting reduces the danger to migratory birds from light confusion. It also conserves energy!

Crashing into a building, whatever the cause, often results in death on impact. Even where a bird is not killed outright, it may fall to the ground , where it is vulnerable to predators or have serious injuries.

Prevention is the key!

Bird Safety Tip:
To help prevent injury or risk of collision, place birdfeeders and/or birdbaths less than a half metre (< 1.5’) or closer from your windows. Over this short distance, birds cannot build up enough momentum to injure themselves if they hit a window. The closer to your window, the better it is for the birds and your viewing.

Objectives

  • Discuss the causes of bird collision.

  • Help prevent birds from crashing into windows during daily life and migration.

Materials

Key Questions

  • What can cause birds to hit buildings?
  • What senses of the birds are confused?
  • What might we do to prevent bird collisions?
  • Do you notice a pattern to the time of day the birds are active at your house?

What To Do

  1. Cut out silhouette.
  2. Colour/decorate.
  3. Tape silhouette to a window at home or at school.

Extensions

  • Keep a journal of bird sightings.
  • In the spring, help birds find nesting material. Put out short pieces of pet or human hair, string and yarn in an onion bag or in a small basket. Keep the pieces shorter than 5 cm so birds don’t get tangled.
  • Research your favourite bird sighting and present it to your class.

Other Resources

UBC | Bird Friendly Design

BirdSafe | Homes Safe for Birds | Window Decal Spacing and Placement

FLAP Canada | Why do Birds Hit Buildings?

Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Free Merlin Bird ID App

Canadian Wildlife Federation | Best Practices on Bird Feeding