July 2019

"Bird-Friendly" Products

The "feel good" terms earth-friendly and bird-friendly have become used somewhat loosely for commercial purposes. That fact does not lessen their validity regarding some consumer items. There are truly bird-friendly products, and they are not limited to feeders, nest boxes, bird seed, or observation blinds. Some that will be discussed here are specific brands that are mainly sold on the web, while others are categories of goods best researched online.

The Smithsonian Institution has established a certification program for coffee grown in a manner that not only protects but enhances habitat for tropical birds. Birds and Beans[1], co-founded by Scott Weidensaul, the author of Living on the Wind, offers only shade-grown, fair trade, organic coffee on their website. It's as bird-and-earth-friendly as possible, and it's hard to find it anywhere else at such prices. Some Audubon chapters have used the "Coffee Club" option found on the site for extra savings and convenience, and report satisfaction.

Part of habitat protection for birds can involve reducing predator pressure, and BirdsBeSafe[2] (a Favorite) has developed a patented solution for one such problem that can make you laugh. But their innovative, scientifically informed approach to making outdoor cats less effective hunters simply has to be seen to be understood and appreciated. The online store offers a broader selection than is possible in retail outlets.

Another way to reduce environmental hazards for birds is to avoid the usually fatal result of collisions with window glass. There are many approaches to this issue, all admirably described on the FLAP Canada[3] website, named with typically Canadian unpretentiousness. The result of studies originally begun to eliminate bird "strikes" caused by light pollution from tall buildings, it now covers reflection reduction for ordinary windows, as well. Which solution is appropriate depends on a number of factors, but their comprehensive, documented site is the place to start investigating.

For example, an existing home might benefit from films or decals, strategically applied. A traditional decal approach might involve images of predators such as owls or hawks, to scare birds away. The disadvantage of either ending up with no birds at all in a home garden or, alternatively, the homeowner always looking out past such intrusive decals is obvious.

The more modern method is a film with a subtle pattern that breaks up the window reflections of plants that might fool birds leaving a feeder into thinking they are flying through open air into trees or shrubbery. One supplier, DecorativeFilms[4] provides a variety of window treatment styles, including "Trellis", and "Frost", with patterns carefully designed to appear too narrow for birds to consider trying to fly through them.

The most ingenious solution, best considered for new construction, is the patterned glass from Ornilux[5] by ArnoldGlas, a German firm specializing in using biomimicry to keep birds safe. Their designs are executed in coatings that are only reflective in the UV spectrum and resemble large, dense spider webs. Invisible to human eyes, they present birds with the impression of an impenetrable barrier, potentially eliminating the danger of a fatal collision. Bird-friendly and human-friendly at the same time, which is the goal of all these products! The Ornilux website is a treasure-trove of analysis and applications for architectural professionals and their clients alike.

(Updated 9-4-19)

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