As the weather warms up, migratory birds pass through Ohio on their long journey from the breeding grounds. Spring migration (March 15-June 1) and Fall migration (August 15-October 31) are fantastic times to see migratory species, especially for those of us lucky enough to live close to Lake Erie. I recently took a trip to Magee Marsh and saw 22 warbler species! While migration season is a great time for us to observe our flying friends, it is a potentially deadly trip for the birds. In North America, the leading cause of bird fatality during migration is collisions with buildings/windows. An estimated half a billion birds die each year from window strikes during migration because, in short, birds cannot make the distinction between a reflection of a tree and an actual tree.
Here are a few tips from the National Audubon Society to make your house bird friendly.
Identify windows that reflect sky/greenery during certain times of the day; or that have a clear view of what looks like nice habitat (house plants). Once you’ve identified potentially dangerous windows:
- Relocate bird feeders. Place feeders and birdbaths within 3 feet of the nearest window OR more than 30 feet away. If the birds take off from less than 3 feet away, they will not have built enough momentum to fatally strike the window; taking off from 30 feet away will give the birds plenty of space to clear the house.
- During migration hang strings, ribbons, or cords in front of windows. Medium-weight string is best (too heavy and birds might get tangled).
- Don’t clean your windows. That’s right! Leave windows off of the spring cleaning list until the migrants have already flown through.
- Use window decals. If you choose this method, keep in mind a cluster of decals is much more successful than a single decal.
- Keep your cats inside!
- The easiest step you can take is to reduce or eliminate lighting during midnight and dawn, August 15-October 31 (fall migration), and March 15-June 1 (spring migration). This will save you money and potentially save some birds.
In addition to making your home bird friendly join the volunteers of Ohio Lights Out! For more information visit their website or walk around downtown Cleveland during Spring/Fall migration from 5:00am-8:00am and spot someone with a net and a reflective vest and ask them what they’re up to.
Blog Author: Megan Smith, Urban Technician