Andrea Imperato felt lucky to be renting a North Berwick home that’s situated beside 60 acres of open hayfields with abundant wildlife. Then the danger to bird life became apparent.
The expansive view led birds to the windows, where bluebirds pecked or scratched at the reflection. In June, Imperato found a dead Eastern bluebird lying on the ground beside a window. She called the Center for Wildlife and was directed to Maine Audubon’s BirdSafe team, where she learned how frequently birds die from window strikes. The experience, she said, was horrific.
“At the door that leads out to the yard, there is a big glass panel,” Imperato said. “What I noticed last year was the bluebirds in particular would come up to the window and see their reflection and scratch at it. I’d see a little bird pecking at himself. There would be all tiny blood marks. It was a little guy trying to protect his brood. The one that dropped was at one of the front windows. It must have bumped itself and dropped.”
Bird strikes on windows cause an estimated 365 million avian fatalities a year, making it a leading cause of bird mortality, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The reflection of skies or trees on the windows is the primary cause of bird strikes. Maine Audubon has been tracking bird strikes against windows the past several years, and has asked the public to email photos of bird strikes to [email protected]
Only a handful of buildings in Maine feature bird-safe glass, but advocates are hopeful that each new example of such buildings will help spread awareness. Most recently, L.L. Bean and two colleges made the choice to make windows safer for birds.
This summer, L.L. Bean added an outside window treatment from Quebec-based Feather Friendly that put sheets of dots on the outside of the windows, a method that helps break up the reflection. Even simple window screens can do the job of alerting birds to the barrier. But the glass used in most buildings reflects the horizon, causing birds to mistake windows without screens for a flyway in the distance.
Construction on L.L. Bean’s new headquarters started in 2019, and the company considered adding bird-safe technology from the start, said Jason Sulham, L.L. Bean’s manager of public affairs. This summer, the adhesive strips with dots were added at a cost of just over $60,000, Sulham said.
“With insight from Maine Audubon, the American Bird Conservancy, and Portland Society for Architecture, we selected a post-construction dot or frit application that was based on effectiveness,” Sulham said. “We recognized that witnessing bird strikes would be an unpleasant and even traumatic experience for employees, especially at a workplace that values wildlife conservation. The health and wellbeing of our employees was …….