Louise Moss, Information Officer, with a warbler which was stunned after flying into a window at the Rye Meads Visitor Centre

Birds and windows

Birds and windows do not mix successfully. The common problems are when birds collide with windows or start to attack them, or if they start to eat the putty.

Window collisions

The popularity of picture windows, patio doors and double glazing has led to many injuries and fatalities among birds which fly into them.

If you find a bird that has flown into a window, it may have suffered from concussion and could have internal injuries. If the bird is in a vulnerable place, gently move it into a dark safe place. If it has not recovered within an hour but is still alive, please contact wildlife rescue, RSPCA, or a vet.

Although some birds collide in the heat of a chase, most do so because they see a reflection of the sky and trees in the glass, or because there is another window or mirror in the room making the bird think there is a way through. Double glazed windows tend to pose a greater risk than single glazed, since they produce clearer reflections.

How to deter this

Making the windowpane more obvious to the bird can reduce window collision.

Fixing an object to the outside of the glass indicates that an obstacle is present. Any image will work - try cutting out random shapes such as half-moons, stars, circles, etc., from coloured self-adhesive plastic.

Alternatively, you can purchase self-adhesive bird silhouettes from our online shop. To buy online from our shop, please click on the link to the left. Some RSPB shops as well as some pet shops and garden centres also sell them.

Please understand that these measures can greatly reduce, but never totally solve, the problem.

Putty pecking

Members of the tit family frequently indulge in this activity in the late autumn and winter.

Birds attacking window frames may be able to hear or see insects in the wood if the wood is old. They may also have a liking for the linseed in the putty. It may be that the putty contains a mineral or other substance that is lacking in the birds natural diet, and it is trying to make up for the deficiency. Other 'acts of vandalism' such as paper-tearing may be connected.

It can be difficult to deter, but paints or fabric sealing strips can be used to cover the putty. If the linseed or fish oils in the putty are the reason, try using a synthetic putty such as Arbolite, which should be available from good hardware shops.

Brushing the window frame with a compound containing aluminium ammonium sulphate, which is a distasteful compound, may also help to break this habit.

 Great tit, Parus major, on blossom