Black-headed Grosbeak being fed a blueberry by Janice Barbary, songbird rehabber. After the bird hit a window, it was not brought to WRR for a few days and Janice was not able to start the medication immediately. This resulted in a much slower recovery as it had difficulty with balance. It was eventually released after 17 days in care. Photo by Ann Westling

August 27, 2018 – Have you ever heard a loud thump and after looking outside, found a small bird lying in front of your windows? Window strikes account for an estimated one billion bird deaths in the US according to the Audubon Society.

“The bird may have a good chance of recovering, especially if you quickly bring it to us,” states Janice Barbary, songbird rehabber with Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release (WR&R). “These stunned birds are given anti-inflammatory medication since head trauma can be a problem. When birds hit hard, it may take several weeks of care and medication before they are healthy enough to be released back to the wild, however with prompt care, they can often recover. By waiting or caring for birds by yourself, the bird’s recovery can be put in jeopardy or take much longer,” she continued.

Based on the most current thinking, if you find a bird dazed from a window collision, put it in a small box like a shoe box with a lid and with paper towels in the bottom. Do not give it food or water and call WR&R’s emergency hotline (530-432-5522) for instructions on where to take the bird. (Note: WR&R’s Intake Center is closed during the fall and winter.)

Barbary states that window strike occurrences seem to increase in the late summer and fall as the lighting shifts. For birds, glass windows are worse than invisible. By reflecting foliage or sky, they look like inviting places to fly. Bird strikes in residential areas are conservatively estimated at 150-400 million a year.

Several bird organizations including Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and American Bird Conservancy recommend a variety of steps you can take to reduce the chances of birds hitting your windows.

  • Place bird feeders within 3 feet of windows or farther than 30 feet.
  • Put tape, decals, mylar strips or sun catchers on the outside of the window. These are only effective when spaced closely together – no more than the span of a hand. Hawk silhouette stickers are not any more effective than other stickers.
  • Cover the glass on the outside with window screening or netting, taut enough to bounce birds off before they can hit the glass. Use small mesh netting – 5/8” diameter so birds don’t get entangled in the netting.
  • Windows across from windows in a house may give the illusion of a pathway. Consider closing the blinds or a door between rooms to solve this situation.
  • Cover the glass with a one-way transparent film that permits people inside to see out, but makes the window appear opaque on the outside. Make sure to mount these products on the outside of the glass.

For more information on birds and window strikes, see:

For more information on Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release see:

Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that cares for injured or orphaned songbirds, raptors, small mammals and bats and releases them back to the wild.