Perhaps a billion birds die annually from colliding with residential and commercial windows. Therefore, there is a societal need to develop technologies that reduce window collisions by birds. Many current window films that are applied to the external surface of windows have human-visible patterns that are not esthetically preferable. BirdShades have developed a short wavelength (ultraviolet) reflective film that appears as a slight tint to the human eye but should be highly visible to many bird species that see in this spectral range. We performed flight tunnel tests of whether the BirdShades external window film reduced the likelihood that two species of song bird (zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata and brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater) collide with windows during daylight. We paid particular attention to simulate the lighting conditions that birds will experience while flying during the day. Our results indicate a 75–90% reduction in the likelihood of collision with BirdShades-treated compared with control windows, in forced choice trials. In more ecologically relevant comparison between trials where all windows were either treated or control windows, the estimated reduction in probability of collision was 30–50%. Further, both bird species slow their flight by approximately 25% when approaching windows treated with the BirdShades film, thereby reducing the force of collisions if they were to happen. Therefore, we conclude that the BirdShades external window film will be effective in reducing the risk of and damage caused to populations and property by birds’ collision with windows. As this ultraviolet-reflective film has no human-visible patterning to it, the product might be an esthetically more acceptable low cost solution to reducing bird-window collisions. Further, we call for testing of other mitigation technologies in lighting and ecological conditions that are more similar to what birds experience in real human-built environments and make suggestions for testing standards to assess collision-reducing technologies.
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Swaddle, John P.; Emerson, Lauren C.; Thady, Robin G.; and Boycott, Timothy J., Ultraviolet-reflective film applied to windows reduces the likelihood of collisions for two species of songbird (2020). PeerJ.