Saturday, January 07, 2006

Farm Chores: I Do Windows


These feathers indicate the spot where a male cardinal hit our window. It survived, but was not happy.



We try to keep our windows as safe as possible for our wild birds. Being on a ridgetop, the large windows in Julie's studio naturally reflect the surrounding habitat and sky. Left unprotected, we might hear three or more thunks a day of birds flying unkowingly into the glass (which is invisible to them due to the bright reflections on the glass surface.)

We've tried netting and screen and found that it works 100% of the time, but it also blocks our light and obscures our vision. We've tried fake snow on the outside but not only does it wash off in the rain, it looks pretty weird to have fake snow on your windows in July. We've tried pie pans, aluminum foil, old CDs, rubber snakes. Nothing has worked as well for us a FeatherGuard, a solution dreamed up by Stiles Thomas of New Jersey. The theory is that the feathers not only catch the birds' eyes, they may serve as a warning of danger, since lots of loose feathers in one place in nature generally indicate that something violent has happened. Of course this is just a theory.

FeatherGuards are not perfect. They make a clicking noise when in place. The colored feathers may not match your drapes or house trim. And FeatherGuards do wear out and blow down, meaning you've got to replace them. This is what I am doing in the accompanying photos.

I tested FeatherGuard for two years on our giant north-facing windows and calculated a 98% reduction in window strikes. That's when I decided to start manufacturing FeatherGuard as a commercial product, with Stiles' approval and input.

The FeatherGuards are all made by my friends at Fairfield Industries, a sheltered workshop in Lancaster, Ohio, and they do a great job making this complicated little product. I'll never make a mint on this little adventure, but I do feel good that I'm helping to save birds.

My dream is that in the future, we'll be able to buy glass windows that are manufactured to be safer for birds, so we won't have to stick, spray, hang, paste, or otherwise adhere things to the surface.

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