Why do birds keep flying into my exterior blinds?
April 15, 2016 5:23 PM   Subscribe

About two weeks ago one bird began repeatedly flying into the exterior blinds of one of my windows. Now this happens almost every day at the same time (just before sunset). Today there were three birds doing it. Why are they doing this and how can I make them stop?

The first time this happened I thought it was a one-off thing. I'm currently living in a major city in a North African country. My apartment has exterior blinds on two of the windows. I also have a very large window without blinds (indoors or outside). The birds seem particularly focused on one window, although they also occasionally hit the other window with exterior blinds. They always hit the very top of the window. They have never hit the window without blinds. None of these windows receive direct sunlight at any time of day. As far as I can see, there is no light reflecting off of the blinds. They are a medium gray color.

This always starts just before sunset and it ends once it's completely dark. Before two weeks ago, this never happened (at least not when I was home and I've lived in the apartment for a month and a half).

I've uploaded three videos in case it helps. The first video has a filter on it to make it a bit lighter. The second video was taken at the same time. The third video was taken ten minutes later when it was getting darker. The birds were much more frantic by this point. Apologies for the reflection on the window. I took the videos from inside the window without blinds.

Video One
Video Two
Video Three

The sound this makes inside my apartment is really disturbing. I'm also worried that the birds will injure or even kill themselves doing this repeatedly, day after day. I'm concerned because, as of today, more birds are joining in.

Does anyone know why this is happening? Is there a way I can make the birds stop?
posted by peppermintchaya to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
They think they can get through that tiny shadowy gap at the top - I've seen the same behavior in spots where they actually can get through, and that's exactly how they swoop in to settle in for the night. Do you have any way to put something up in that little crack, even just stuff some light-colored fabric or paper into that crack?
posted by Lyn Never at 5:28 PM on April 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

When I first read this it sounded like the birds were actually flying into the blind / window forcefully, as though they didn't realize it was there.

From watching the video, I'd have to say they are either:
Checking out that spot for a potential nest
Found a small cache of bugs just inside the space of the blind and the structure
or, as Lyn Never said, looking for a roosting spot for the night.

#3 seems to make the most sense given the time of day. Note that I know nothing about North African bird species behavior. I doubt very much they are injuring themselves though, so there's no need for concern there.
posted by SquidLips at 6:07 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Birds are resilient; one got trapped in my basement and escaped only after beating himself against a door long enough for me to notice, which was at least a week after he'd gotten trapped based on what happened to his colleagues in the attic.

I agree that this is probably just swooping in for a landing on a non-existential perch. Birds are also pretty stupid.

I hate birds now.
posted by SMPA at 6:21 PM on April 15, 2016

As for getting them to stop, hanging something there that's shiny or moves (aluminum foil, ribbons, etc) might be worth a try.
posted by cecic at 6:42 PM on April 15, 2016

When the blinds are up, is there a way the birds could actually get in somewhere. It looks like (maybe) there could be a hidden nest that they could access if the blinds were up? *wild guess*
posted by Toddles at 9:43 PM on April 15, 2016

Here are some suggestions on how to deter birds from flying at windows. Hope it helps.
posted by squeak at 10:24 PM on April 15, 2016

It's hard to tell but those look a lot like swifts which roost under the eaves of houses, so I think this:
They think they can get through that tiny shadowy gap at the top - I've seen the same behavior in spots where they actually can get through, and that's exactly how they swoop in to settle in for the night.
is spot on.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:52 AM on April 16, 2016

Thank you everyone for your ideas and suggestions. I've learned more about birds the past few days than I ever knew before. I think that EndsOfInvention is right about the birds being swifts. The explanation that the birds are trying to get into the small shadowy gap at the top of the window makes a lot more sense than any ideas I had.

Unfortunately, I can't access the part of the window where they're trying to swoop in because I'm on the fifth floor. I guess I'll have to just put on some headphones and try to ignore the noises, even though they're really unsettling. I'm glad to know that the birds aren't hurting themselves.
posted by peppermintchaya at 6:06 AM on April 16, 2016

You can see a swift perform this maneuver successfully at around 0:19 in this video. It dives into a tiny dark gap under the eaves of a house that looks very much like that shadow on your window. They apparently love nesting under the eaves of houses -- some people even build nest boxes for them there!
posted by ourobouros at 6:38 AM on April 16, 2016

Can you aim a bright light from the inside at the top of the blind so that it counterbalances the shawdows? I'm thinking a goose necked lamp that you can aim right at the top section might work. You could wait to turn it until you hear the first thump.
posted by metahawk at 12:12 PM on April 17, 2016

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