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Window collisions are one of the largest human-caused causes of avian mortality in built environments and, therefore, cause population declines that can be a significant conservation issue. Applications of visibly noticeable films, patterns, and decals on the external surfaces of windows have been associated with reductions in both window collisions and avian mortality. It is often logistically difficult and economically prohibitive to apply these films and decals to external surfaces, especially if the windows are above the first floor of a building. Therefore, there is interest and incentive to apply the products to internal surfaces that are much easier to reach and maintain. However, there is debate as to whether application to the internal surface of windows renders any collision-reduction benefit, as the patterns on the films and decals may not be sufficiently visible to birds. To address this knowledge gap, we performed the first experimental study to compare the effectiveness of two distinct window films when applied to either the internal or external surface of double-glazed windows. Specifically, we assessed whether Haverkamp and BirdShades window film products were effective in promoting the avoidance of window collisions (and by inference, a reduction of collisions) by zebra finches through controlled aviary flight trials employing a repeated- measures design that allowed us to isolate the effect of the window treatments on avoidance flight behaviors. We chose these two products because they engage with different wavelengths of light (and by inference, colors) visible to many songbirds: the BirdShades film is visible in the ultraviolet (shorter wavelength) range, while the Haverkamp film includes signals in the orange (longer wavelength) range. We found consistent evidence that, when applied to the external surface of windows, the BirdShades product resulted in reduced likelihood of collision and there was marginal evidence of this effect with the Haverkamp film. Specifically, in our collision avoidance trials, BirdShades increased window avoidance by 47% and the Haverkamp increased avoidance by 39%. However, neither product was effective when the films were applied to the internal surface of windows. Hence, it is imperative that installers apply these products to exterior surfaces of windows to render their protective benefits and reduce the risk of daytime window collision.

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DOI 10.7717/peerj.14676