Every spring and fall, Judd Brink, owner of Minnesota Backyard Birds, gets calls from customers concerned about birds crashing into their windows.
"It's mostly lake homes with large panoramic windows that reflect water and mimic habitat," said Brink, whose company specializes in "birdscaping" (installing and maintaining bird-feeding systems). "We try to come up with solutions."
Even urban dwellers, especially those with large expanses of glass, can experience a lot of bird carnage.
The best way to protect birds is to design a bird-safe home to begin with. But if you're not planning on building soon, here are ways to make your existing home more bird-friendly:
Decals: Special stickers that appear clear to humans but are visible to birds can help them navigate away from glass windows. They're available in seasonal shapes, such as leaves and snowflakes, and are sold at many wild bird-feed suppliers.
Bird tape: Brink uses Mylar ribbon with a hologrammic image, cuts it into 2-foot strips and tapes it to windows, along the molding. "It has worked really well," he said. "The rippling noise and reflection keeps birds away." (It's also effective at deterring birds from pecking holes and nesting in cedar siding, he said.)
Screens: Bill Lutz of Victoria bought screen cloth on 6-foot rolls, stretched it across homemade frames and attached it with a staple gun to deter bird strikes at his biggest windows.
You can also buy bird screens, according to author Laura Erickson. Screens must be outside the windows or birds won't be able to see them through reflective glare, she said. "Inside screens are worthless."
Food placement: When placing bird feeders, make sure they're right outside a window, just inches from the glass, or at least 15 feet away, Erickson said. Fruit trees, too, should be planted at least 15 feet from windows.
Window management: If you have a weekend or seasonal home, keep inside blinds, shades or curtains closed when you're not there. Turn off all unnecessary lights.
For more tips, visit "For the Birds" at www.lauraerickson.com.