what does it mean when a bird hits your window

Hundreds of birds await treatment in paper bags after flying into windows in Toronto

The Toronto Wildlife Centre is constantly working to help rescue and care for hurt and sick animals, but lately they've had their hands exceptionally full with injured migratory songbirds that have collided with windows throughout the city. 

In September, over 300 birds were admitted into TWC's care after flying into windows. And on Monday alone, 157 wild animals were admitted — the majority of which were migratory songbirds who flew into closed windows.

Photos posted online by TWC this week show rows of paper bags containing the little songbirds as they await care, demonstrating the sheer scale of the problem. 

According to FLAP Canada, a registered Canadian charity widely recognized as the pre-eminent authority on the bird-building collision issue, around 25 million migratory birds die as a direct result of collisions with buildings in Canada each year. 

The issue is particularly pervasive in Ontario, where the province's Building Code sets minimum requirements for new construction, renovation and change of use of buildings — but nothing related to design requirements for bird safety

"Despite the availability of proven, affordable techniques to reduce bird collisions with buildings and a bird-friendly building design standard, there are no provisions in the Building Code to require they are used," says FLAP Canada.

"By mandating bird-friendly building construction measures in the Building Code, Ontario could significantly reduce the number of birds that die needlessly each year."

Fortunately, there are also steps individuals can take to help prevent these tragedies.

According to FLAP Canada, the best way to stop birds from flying into your windows is to make the entire window look like a barrier by applying dense patterns of markings (small dots, squares, lines, etc.) to the outside of your window. 

To be effective, the markings should have gaps no larger than 5 cm by 5 cm, be applied to the outside surface of the glass, be of high contrast so they stand out, be no less than 6 mm in diameter, and cover the entire surface of the glass.

Examples of what this looks like can be found on FLAP Canada's website, and animal lovers can also sign a petition — which has more than 20,000 signatures — urging the Ontario government to update its Building Code to protect the birds.

"Many of Ontario's migratory bird populations are in steep decline. Each year, millions of birds die in Ontario by colliding with windows on buildings," the petition reads. 

"Buildings therefore represent a major source of mortality for Ontario's birds, including bird Species at Risk. Unless we take meaningful conservation actions, we risk losing irreplaceable bird species in the coming decades."

Lead photo by

Toronto Wildlife Centre

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