wildlife habitat in the built environment

Creating wildlife habitat in built-up areas helps wild animals find food, water and shelter in areas that are often inhospitable to wildlife.  Keep in mind that urban and suburban habitats also present some hazards to wildlife.  Take care to avoid drawing wildlife into landscapes that are harmful.

garden habitat bird collisions animalia project susan ask
This lovely home provides food and water for wildlife, but the reflections in the windows create a hazard for birds. animalia project photo by susan ask

Windows, lovely as they are, present a real hazard for birds.  Birds don’t see glass– and neither do we.  They do see the reflected images of sky, trees and passageways.  When birds fly towards these images, they can hit the glass and suffer serious, often mortal, injuries.

If you have bird feeders, you’ve probably seen birds fly quickly away from the feeder, especially when they’re avoiding conflict with another animal, like a squirrel or hawk that approaches the feeder.  Birds are vulnerable to collisions with windows during this panicked flight.  You can do three things to reduce this hazard:

  1. place feeders out of sight of windows
  2. place feeders so close to windows that birds can’t get up enough speed to hurt themselves badly if they collide with the window.   Feeders within 4 feet of the window are associated with fewer collisions than feeders further away.
  3. make your windows bird friendly by creating patterns on the windows.  Find more information here.

If you have bird-friendly gardens, filled with native plants and diverse insects, you can protect birds by:

  1. planting vegetation that grows in front of, and obscures, windows.  This helps reduce reflection off the windows and it creates perches so close to windows that birds flying off the perch aren’t going fast enough to get seriously injured if they hit the window.
  2. making your windows ‘visible’ to birds with patterns that make the windows appear to be the solid objects that they really are.  Find more here.
  3. keeping your cats in the house.  And– it’s healthier for the cats, too.

Learn more about the bird collisions here.

last updated: February 2013