Anna’s Humminbird (Kathryn Harlan-Gran/Audubon Photography Awards)
Rufous Hummingbirds make astounding migratory journeys. Each year, over the course of about six weeks, these birds migrate from southern Mexico to southeast Alaska—averaging more than 70 miles per day. This is by a bird that weighs less than a nickel and measures half as long as a dollar bill!
Sadly, the extraordinary journeys for too many of these amazing birds will end in a senseless, fatal collision with glass. Window collisions kill up to one billion birds a year, and some studies suggest that hummingbirds have a disproportionately high vulnerability to injury and death by window collisions.
Scientists posit a few hypotheses for why hummingbirds may be more collision prone, including high flight velocity and fragility, but no one conclusive reason is clear. Long journeys may be a risk factor, and migratory hummingbirds pass through many urban areas, which raises their chances of colliding with our built environment.
So, what can we do today to help the hummingbirds?
Rufous Hummingbird (Boe Baty/Audubon Photography Awards)
Bird-Safe Your Windows
From simple do-it-yourself projects to professional installations, there are many ways to make your windows bird-safe. Streak the outside of your window with a bar of soap or try this fun art decal project. For safe windows that draw the least attention, opt for clear tape or dots from Collidescape. If you are looking to cover a large surface or a commercial building the best options may be repeating dots. You could even commission an artist to make your windows safe and beautiful. Remember, all of these applications need to be on the outside of windows to break up the reflection. Find more information on preventing bird-window collisions here.
Making your windows bird-safe is especially important if you have a bird feeder. Bird feeders can double the risk of collisions.
DIY art decals on a window
Feather Friendly window decals
Report Any Dead or Injured Birds That You Find on dBird
Most research on bird-window collisions has occurred east of the Mississippi. Our organization is working to improve our local understanding of window collisions by documenting when and where they occur. If you find a dead or injured bird, reporting it on dbird.org helps scientists and conservationists understand and prevent bird-window collisions.
A Rufous Hummingbird lies below a window
Share Your Bird-Window Collision Story with Us
Witnessing a bird-window collision or discovering a dead bird can bring up different emotions, and we want to hear what happened. If you witness or find a bird that has hit a window, let us know by sharing your story here. We want to know how you felt and how you responded. Your stories help us be more compelling advocates for bird-safe cities.
Join Seattle Bird Collision Monitors
Every fall and spring we run a six-week, collision-monitoring community science initiative that involves searching buildings for evidence of bird-window collisions. If that sounds interesting, keep your eyes out in late summer to join our fall 2023 monitoring season. Read more about this program here.
Seattle Bird Collision Monitors searching around a building
Learn more about our Bird-Safe Cities initiative here. Thank you for helping us advocate for cities where people and birds thrive.
Urban Conservation Educator
Originally from North Carolina, Kate moved to Seattle fall of 2022 after graduating from Carleton College in Minnesota. She has always loved the outdoors and is thrilled to have a job where work and nature come hand in hand. In her free time you can find Kate playing ultimate frisbee, exploring Seattle coffee shops, or sharing her newest bird fact.
No longer a barrier, our new name represents an open door for new communities to join us in our mission to advocate and organize for cities where people and birds thrive.
What does it mean to take care of or steward our precious habitats, from large tracts of land to the native trees in our backyards? It’s a complex question to ask but one that needs to be raised as development rages on in the Puget Sound region.
Do you believe conservation and education should be informed by science? Consider volunteering on our Science Committee.