One-way mirrored birdfeeder reflective window material stuff!
February 14, 2007 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Is there a one-way reflective material for windows that doesn't reduce outbound visibility? I'm trying to help my cats sit on the windowsill without scaring the birds away from the feeder.

Window-mounted birdfeeders like this say that "The one-way mirrored plastic film on domed panel allows up-close viewing of the wild birds." I would like to cover my entire window with mirrored plastic film so that my cats can sit and watch the birds eating without scaring them away.

I did some Google research, and I found several varieties of "mirror window film", and discovered that you can buy Gila Film at the local Home Depot. I took some out of the box and looked at it, and it seems to have a significant tinting effect. Enough so that I don't think it would be as enjoyable looking at birds through it.

The question: Are there any materials like this that don't diminish the outgoing view? Do the birdfeeders that have mirrored materials also have the tinting effect? Their marketing photos don't show a tinting effect; are they deceptive?

It seems logical that since the mirrored part is bouncing photons away from you, it's not going to darken the view. Then again: we do live in an age of miracles.
posted by agropyron to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
No, there is no such thing. Sometimes in movies it seems that way, but what they're doing is to mount a mirror for one scene, and clear glass in the same frame for the other looking the other way.

"One way" glass is partially mirrored and takes advantage of the fact that there's more light on one side than on the other. If you're on the dark side, what you get is 50% of the light hitting from the other side plus 50% of the light hitting from your own side -- but the light from the other side is a lot brighter. And if your eyes are adjusted, it can seem as if the glass is nearly clear.

If you're on the bright side, the 50% that reflects is a lot brighter, so all you see is the reflection.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:30 PM on February 14, 2007

The apartment in which I am living has stuff stuck to some windows that looks white from the outside but is transparent and hardly noticeable from the inside. It has a sort of honeycomb mesh pattern if you look at it close up. I expect that it's much like the film that they use to cover whole city buses with ads.

You may not want to make your window that ugly, and I don't have any helpful info on where to find this material (I'm in England and I didn't buy it), but you might want to abandon the "mirror" part of your search if this interests you.
posted by sueinnyc at 1:31 PM on February 14, 2007

If you do not find the material you are looking for, I've seen solutions to this problem that involve altering the windowsill to make it less attractive to pets.
posted by rudyfink at 1:33 PM on February 14, 2007

Why cover the entire window? Just cover the area where the cats usually sit.
posted by JJ86 at 1:34 PM on February 14, 2007

By tinting do you mean darken or changing the color balance in general? I don't think it's possible for any passive method to provide a mirror effect without limiting some of the light transmitted.
posted by 6550 at 1:35 PM on February 14, 2007

I guess the material I have is perforated window vinyl.
posted by sueinnyc at 1:39 PM on February 14, 2007

Former cat+reflective window owner here. Beware that a highly reflective window is a hazard for birds, who will fly into the window at full speed and often die. Your cats may find this entertaining; you, probably not so much.
posted by ldenneau at 1:40 PM on February 14, 2007

Go to your local auto parts store and ask for a roll of automotive window tint with a 35% mirrored finish... This will be enough reflection to keep the birds from seeing in without being reflective enough to be dangerous... And your cats will see out of it just fine.
posted by amyms at 1:44 PM on February 14, 2007

Thank you for the answers so far.

More specifically: I don't care if it's reflective, I just want to see out and have the birds not see in. I also don't care if it's ugly, as it's in an obscure place. I do plan to just cover the area where the cats will sit.

I have currently made the sill unattractive to the cats, but I would get a kick out of watching them sit there and salivate over the birds.

I will look into the perforated window vinyl, thanks sueinnyc.
posted by agropyron at 1:47 PM on February 14, 2007

Ooooh, I will also look at 35% mirrored finish, thanks amyms!
posted by agropyron at 1:48 PM on February 14, 2007

Another possible resource:
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:04 PM on February 14, 2007

Good one, blaneyphoto. Looks like I'm after a high visible light transmission, or VLT. A quick Google seems to indicate that regular glass has a VLT of about 81%. Looks like the highest VLT films are 70%; not sure how visible the cats would be with that one, but I'm sure I can track down some samples in person.
posted by agropyron at 2:12 PM on February 14, 2007

I have a bird feeder right outside the window where the cats lurk; it took a couple of weeks but the birds now are pretty habituated to the cats and don't seem to hesitate to come to feed even when the cats are right there lurking. You might just try waiting.

Of course, sometimes the cats just cannot stand it and they LAUNCH themselves at the glass with a resounding THUD, and that does startle the birds for a moment.
posted by Rubber Soul at 2:34 PM on February 14, 2007

We have some vines hanging inside a window between our cat's perch and our bird feeder. It seems to be OK, as the cat knows to be very still. I imagine that any kind of dense plants/grass along the cat's perching place would work pretty well, though it can partially hide your view of the birds.
posted by amtho at 2:47 PM on February 14, 2007

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