Bird protection at the winter garden

Tit in flight

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How to help the birds

Large glass surfaces are not safe for birds. They often don’t perceive the windows as an obstacle and then fly against them at full speed. But there are ways to protect your feathered friends from them. If you think of black stickers with a silhouette of a bird of prey, we’ll tell you right up front: you can do better than that.

It’s not a pretty sight: A bird lying in front of a pane of glass. But unfortunately this does not happen so rarely. The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) estimates that in Germany alone, more than 100 million birds die every year because they fly into glass panes. The high flying speeds of the animals often lead to their immediate death on impact. Or the birds retreat injured into the bushes, where cats and martens find them. The homeowners therefore do not always find out immediately what has happened.

Three things can cause panes of glass to become a hazard to birds:

  • Transparency

Windshields are usually crystal clear in the truest sense of the word, so they are not perceived as an obstacle. If there are windows on different walls in the room, or if a pane even goes around the corner, birds have the impression that they can fly through a room as if through a tunnel.

  • Reflections

Reflections are an equally dangerous trap. When the surrounding vegetation is reflected in the glass – bushes, hedges, trees, shrubs. Then it turns from an opaque obstacle into a tempting hiding place. A reflection of the sky also suggests supposed escape routes that could end in a collision.

Glass house facade reflects sky with clouds

  • Lighting

An evening illumination is known to be interesting for insects. And some birds are also attracted to it and – because of the lighting from inside – can’t see the windows as an obstacle.
A winter garden is usually located close to or in nature. And of course, the owners would like to use it in the evening hours as well. This makes it clear that it can quickly become a trap for birds in any of the three ways mentioned above. What to do?

Black silhouettes of birds against a white background

Quite often seen are silhouettes: simple black silhouettes of larger birds (of prey) are glued to the windows and are supposed to scare off small birds. But not everyone likes to "bird-proof" their conservatory windows in several places with black stickers. And more importantly, the deterrent often does not work. Some birds, seeing such silhouettes of enemies, even pick up speed and try to escape. This means that, in the worst case, they fly straight at the pane in order to fly away under the supposed enemy. In addition, the black silhouettes are hardly visible in the twilight anyway.

But what other options are there?

  • Low-reflection glass

Not all glass is the same. You can use low-reflection glass when building the winter garden or glass house. This reduces the risk of nearby vegetation being reflected in the glass and giving the birds the impression that they are hiding. Since glass can also have UV protection, sound insulation and a number of other properties, it is important to ask your dealer or the manufacturer you trust about the possibilities when combining it with low-reflection glass.

  • Special stickers

To make a pane visible to birds as an obstacle in the first place, stickers can certainly be used. It is important that they are attached to the pane from the outside. Then birds can see the windows. According to NABU, the Vienna Conservation Authority has found that patterns with a light-dark contrast work particularly well. The larger the area in which such patterns are used, the more reliably they work.

But for those who do not like visible stickers on their windows, stickers that are almost invisible to the human eye may be an alternative. They take advantage of the different perception of humans and birds: Birds can see UV light, humans cannot. Glass hardly reflects UV light (unless it is specially made for this purpose). But there are transparent, specially coated stickers that reflect UV light. They are therefore virtually invisible to humans, but are intended to make the pane visible to birds. The Swiss Ornithological Institute, however, points out in an article on this topic that UV stickers have not done so well in tests – as have the classic black silhouettes of birds of prey.

  • Blinds

Clearly, if you own a conservatory, you enjoy the unobstructed view of the outdoors. But blinds, curtains, roller blinds and other devices for privacy protection reliably make windows recognizable as obstacles. A compromise are devices with slats: They do not have to be pulled up all the way. If the slats are opened, the outside is still clearly visible – and birds recognize the pane as an obstacle.

  • Bird protection glass

It is possible to coat panes during manufacture in such a way that they reflect UV light and are recognized by birds. This is a very effective protective measure. Plant lovers, however, should take into account that this UV light then does not reach the inside of the conservatory and green plants placed there therefore thrive less well.

Conclusion

Let’s be frank: The risk of a bird flying into a window pane cannot be ruled out 100 percent even with the above measures. But equipped accordingly, the risk that the glass pane becomes a danger decreases significantly.

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