BirdSafe @ Home

While the hazards of tall buildings and urban lighting can pose a severe risk to migrating birds, millions of more birds are die every year around residential homes, including one-story structures, due to window strikes and other causes.  During the day, birds mistake reflections of plants and sky on the windows as a clear flight path.  At night, illuminated interiors again look like a path that can be flown through. Window strikes can happen at any time of year but tend to increase during spring and fall migration and during breeding season when young birds start flying. 

Here are some steps you can take to make your home more Bird Safe.

1. Make windows safer for birds.  
  • Installing patterns, using stickers or etching, or even cords on reflective glass surfaces gives birds visual ques that the way is not clear; the quantity and spacing of the patterns determine their effectiveness: multiple markings 2 to 4 inches apart are recommended.  
  • Other steps can include installing external screens on windows and closing blinds and curtains. 
  • Also don't place a plant that looks like a nice perch just inside windows.
  • Learn more at

2. Evaluate windows that face feeders and make them safe as necessary.
  • Feeders should be placed far enough from structures so that birds won't crash into them when quickly departing feeders.   
  • Alternatively, place feeders very near windows so birds can't build up any speed if they do fly toward the window.  Feeders attached to windows are perhaps best for this.  
  • Prioritize windows near feeders for safety improvements such as installing patters on windows.
3. Keep bird feeders and baths clean.  
  • Bird feeders and baths should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized about every two weeks to prevent disease outbreaks. Scrub off any visible debris, then wash them with nine parts water to one part bleach.  Let dry before filling with seed. 
4. Keep cats indoors and away from birds.  
  • Cats can be adorable but they are also ferocious predators.   Some estimates say that domestic cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion wild birds in the U.S. every year.  
  • Keeping cats indoors or confined to enclosed "catios" keeps birds and other wildlife safe and also gives the cat a healthier and longer life.
  • Spay or neuter your pet.  Cats can get pregnant as young as 4 months old and have multiple litters per year, which can result in runaway feral cat populations in areas.
You can also make your yard more beneficial for birds

1. Plant more Plants - and plant Natives
  • While bird feeders provide a useful temporary food source for birds, building habitat truly helps birds.  Planting more native plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees provides birds with the fundamental elements for living.  The plants can provide nectar, seeds, and fruit, but they also host a variety of insects that are essential protein for birds, especially during the nesting season.  The shrubs and trees also provide shelter, cover and nesting space.   Get native plant suggestions at
2. Let your yard get a little messy
  • Leaf litter and ground cover also provide important habitat for ground foraging birds, like the Brown Thrasher, Robins, various sparrows, and more.   So, put away the rake, and let things get a little messy.
  • If you have space, leave a wood pile.  This provides great habitat for a variety of birds and other wildlife.
  • Dead trees and tree stumps can be full of life.   If you can leave dead tree standing as a snag, it can be a critical foraging space and even home for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and many other birds.
3. Reduce the lawn and cut the fertilizer and pesticide use
  • We spend billions every year trying to maintain the "traditional" lawn often with the ideal presented by marketers of perfectly uniform monoculture of grass.  Achieving this requires literally poisoning anything else that attempts to live in the same space with pesticides and herbicides.  And these are not just harmful to plants and insects, but also to pets and people.  Then the remaining shallow rooted turf grass needs significant amounts of fertilizer and watering to look green.  The simplest step to reversing this cycle is to stop putting down pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer and go for a "Freedom Lawn" - let grow what grow and keep it mowed - this often leads to a rather diverse and, often in the spring, flower filled lawn that is much easier on the environment and the wallet.  The next step is to start shrinking the lawn by planting more plants!