Attracting birds to your windows may seem counterproductive to many birders who have taken extensive steps to prevent bird window collisions and needless injuries to backyard birds, but bringing birds closer can often be safe and enjoyable. Birders who may not have a large backyard or who prefer birding from the comfort of their favorite armchair can easily attract birds right to their windows for the best views and an intimate birding experience.
Why Windows Can Be Safe
While window collisions can easily be fatal to birds, it is possible to bring birds up close in a safe way. The closer birds are to your windows, the safer those windows can actually be – a bird that is only a foot or two away from the window cannot build up enough speed to have a dangerous impact if it is startled into flight. Furthermore, if you plan a bird feeding station right at a window, not only will you get spectacular views of the birds that visit, but as they approach the feeding area they will naturally slow down, which lessens the chances of a fatal collision.
Choosing the Window
Before trying to attract birds to every window in your house, select the best windows that will provide good results for you and the birds. Opt for a window away from heavy traffic both inside the house as well as outdoors – windows near frequently used doors or paths will not be as attractive to birds. At the same time, choose a window that is a comfortable height and location for easy viewing. Of course, the outside of the window should be easily accessible from either the inside or outside for keeping it clean, refilling feeders or replanting window boxes to keep the area attractive to birds.
Shielding the Birds' View
The first step toward encouraging birds to visit a feeding area near a window is to be sure they don't realize it's a window at all. If the birds are able to see movement inside the house, they will be more wary and less likely to visit the feeder. If you shield their view, however, they will quickly become accustomed to the window and you will be able to enjoy watching the birds from just a few inches away.
To shield the view inside your window…
- Add a sheer curtain over the window that will inhibit birds looking inside but still admits light and can be moved carefully away to give you a good view of the birds.
- Add interior shutters or blinds to the window and keep them partially closed as much as possible. This will inhibit the birds' view but still give you a good blind for watching them.
- Install a film on the window that turns the glass either into a one-way mirror or an opaque surface that you can still see out. This blocks birds' views but permits you to watch them whenever you prefer.
Attracting Birds Up Close
Attracting birds to a window feeding or viewing area is easier than you may think, if you use the area to meet their needs for food, water and shelter.
- Food: Plant nectar-producing flowers or seed-bearing flowers in a window box for natural food sources for birds, or use small bird feeders attached to the window or mounted in the window box to provide birds' favorite foods right at the window. Window-mount feeders such as the Window Watch Feeder for hummingbirds or the Super Songbird Mirrored Bird Feeder for seed are ideal choices to add a feeding station at a window. If you do not have a window box, add a garden hook or pole very close to the window for a convenient place to hang or mount a feeder.
- Water: Bird baths don't have to be large to attract thirsty birds, and a small saucer bird bath can be a great addition to a window box. You can also add a larger bird bath outside the window if it is tall enough to be seen from the inside, or position the bath on a platform made of bricks or paving stones to give it enough height to be seen from inside. If possible, adding a dripper or mister near the window will also attract birds' attention and draw them in for a sip or a quick bath.
- Shelter: Even small sheltered spaces can be welcoming to birds. In a window box, choose plants that grow to different heights, such as small ornamental grasses, flowers or trailing plants that will add greater texture and dimension to the greenery. In winter, add a few branches or evergreen boughs to the box for extra cover. Planting small trees and other bird-friendly plants near the window will also give birds more shelter and protection nearby. Climbing plants that can surround the window can also be ideal for adding more shelter, food and color to attract birds.
Protecting Your Window Birds
Even though birds that visit close to windows are less likely to suffer dangerous collisions, it is important to keep your windows safe. Take steps to prevent any collisions by adding decals to the glass or using other tricks to break up reflections, and be sure the area around the window is not welcoming to feral cats or other predators that might be interested in the birds you attract. The window should be kept closed at all times unless it has a good screen to keep birds from inadvertently coming inside, and clean the window and the entire area periodically to minimize the spread of diseases from the flock of feeding birds.
With care and dedication, it is possible to attract birds to your windows safely and easily, giving you wonderful views of your feathered friends even while they enjoy the benefits of a new and thoughtful feeding area.
Photo – Window Box © Michael Sprague