Audubon Adventures


The next time you’re standing outside, take a good look at a window. Can you see through it? Or does the glass reflect sky, trees, and other things outside? The answer will depend on the light. If it’s nighttime, you may be able to see inside to a lighted room with ease. If it’s day, chances are you may see reflections of the outdoors or the glass will be practically invisible.

Glass can be a real problem for birds. During the day, birds wing their way from place to place, trying to stay close to cover. Reflected trees or sky on a window can look like habitat to birds on the move, or the glass will appear invisible. They can fly straight into the glass and be injured or even killed. At night, light spilling through glass windows or light reflected on the outside of windows can also attract birds, causing the same result: injured or dead birds.

People see a modern glass-walled building. Birds see sky and trees.

Most birds are not familiar with glass. They don’t see it as a barrier, and that leads to collisions. Buildings with glass windows or lots of bright lights are an especially big problem for birds. Millions of them crash into buildings every year. But that’s changing. Audubon and others are working to show people how to make their windows safer for birds and to make the night sky darker with help from a program called Lights Out, which encourages cities and building managers to turn lights off at night. Birds are an important part of the ecosystem, and we want to be sure we make our buildings as bird-friendly as possible. You can be part of the solution!

To find out more about why birds and buildings often don’t mix, check out the Audubon Adventures Safety for Birds in Flight magazine. Just click on its cover in the column on the right. You’ll learn why glass and bright lights are such a challenging issue for our feathered friends. You’ll help a bird safely migrate through a maze of hazards. And you’ll get all kinds of tips for how to protect the birds that hang out around your home.

Photos: Mike Fernandez; Adam Betuel.