Monday, April 22, 2013

Ghost of a Chance

I was unsure if the thundering noise was our house being hit by a meteorite or if the diamond had dropped out of Susan's engagement ring. Whichever, it surely meant disaster.
I dashed upstairs and came face-to-face with a ghost bird.
Well, it was the image of a ghost at least. The near-perfect silhouette of a Mourning Dove was etched onto our picture window.

Another window strike. This is a too-common way for birds to meet their end. It's estimated that millions of birds die each year when they smash into windows. Exact numbers are impossible to tabulate.
At our feeding station, the common precipitate for window strikes is the resident Cooper's Hawk, or his associate, a Red-shouldered Hawk that's also been working the area with frequency. I can't blame the hawks, they have to eat, too. When one of the raptors flies in, or over, it's mayhem at the feeders; birds take off in all directions, and our large picture window reflects an escape route into the forest.
What to do?
Birding buddies Pat and Karin found a solution to the window-strike problem at their home. Over the years they tried several devices that were not acceptable, i.e. screening devices that cut the viewing of birds to an unacceptable level.
Pat discovered the Acopian Bird Savers, a clever array consisting of single dark-colored nylon cords hung vertically a few inches in front of the outside window glass. These nylon cords are spaced about four inches apart across the horizontal width of the window.
The idea is, birds used to flying through the woods can avoid branches. The presumption is, they recognize these dark nylon cords as dark branches. The Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College and Dr. Daniel Klem, Jr. developed and refined this tactic using field tests in a wooded opening in a Pennsylvania forest. It's good science. The result was the nylon-corded windows reduced window strikes by upwards of 90 percent compared with unprotected windows.
If you’d like to save the lives of more than a few birds, here are a couple links to explore:
Now, to get that ghostly image off the window, I’ll need the stepladder, the glass cleaner, the … Or, I could just call GhostBusters!


RichC said...

Cords? ... Hmm, and here I thought preventing bird strikes was the perfect excuse not to clean our windows?

Anonymous said...

Hello Clyde,

I'm very glad that you are spreading the word about the use and effectiveness of Acopian BirdSavers to prevent birds from being killed at windows. But I would like to correct one statement in your article. Your statement "The Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College and Dr. Daniel Klem, Jr. developed and refined this tactic using field tests in a wooded opening in a Pennsylvania forest" is incorrect. Neither the Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College nor Dr. Daniel Klem, Jr. had anything to do with the development or design of Acopian BirdSavers. Acopian BirdSavers were submitted to Dr. Klem for field testing to determine if they are effective in deterring birds from colliding with glass. He has done this kind of evaluation for many other devices that purport to deter birds from colliding with windows. That was the extent of Dr. Klem's involvement with BirdSavers. You can read his conclusions here:
and here:
he Wilson Journal of Ornithology 125(2):406–411, 2013

Acopian BirdSavers were designed and developed by me. I felt it was important to make the information available at because I thought anyone who wanted to keep birds from hitting their windows should know about this simple, inexpensive, effective, do-it-yourself technique.

Thank you very much.

Jeff Acopian