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How to Make Your Muskoka Cottage Windows Safer for Birds

A cottage on the lake may be perfect for you, with bright sunlight pouring through your windows and stunning views. But even the most picturesque surroundings can be unideal habitats and downright dangerous for birds if your cottage’s windows are not bird-safe. Add in the recent trend towards larger windows which may even extend to architectural glass walls, and you have a potential hazard for your avian neighbours. To ensure your cottage and its windows are safe for birds, it’s important to recognize the risks and make some modifications where necessary. But don’t worry – it’s actually very easy to make your cottage bird-safe. 

Understand the Risks
According to a study done by the American Ornithological Society and published in the Condor, on average, at least 150 million birds die every year in the United States due to collisions with windows. You must first understand what could present risks to the birds populating the area. While bird feeders, plants, and trees are excellent ways to provide a welcoming environment for birds, they can also create a hazardous area if not prepared correctly. 

A study done by Justine Kummer, a former University of Alberta researcher, found that most fatal collisions for birds occurred in rural yards that had trees and bird feeders – just like many cottages and homes in Muskoka. So how can you make your cottage windows bird-safe?

Find the Dangers
Take a walk around your cottage and try to identify windows that present the clearest reflection. Those will be the windows which are the most important to make bird-safe. According to Joanna Eckles, a coordinator for Project Birdsafe, the sky’s reflection in a window can be incredibly dangerous for an oncoming bird: “If they’re flying straight towards a glass window, they won’t see it. Ever. What they see are the reflections of habitat or sky, things they know and need.”

Similarly, it can be helpful to reassess the placement of bird feeders on your property. While hanging them close to your cottage can be tempting, it’s the most dangerous place for birds. Bird feeders hanging too close to windows will force them to fly close and approach at a dangerous speed.

After identifying potential dangers, it’s time to make your cottage windows bird-safe. 

Make the Necessary Changes
There are three common options to make simple changes and ensure the safety of birds around your cottage. The first is to install an exterior screen to reduce the reflection coming off the window. There are different types of screens and netting made specifically with the safety of birds in mind if that’s the avenue you choose. Most windows already have screens, but if the window does not it’s a good first step. If it is inconvenient to install an exterior screen, move on to the next steps.  

A series of strings or ribbons hung vertically can be a simple way to distort the reflection coming off the window. Not only will it dissuade birds from approaching at a high rate of speed, but they can be moved to other potentially less dangerous windows.

The third option has a similarly minimal impact on your windows, with the choice of translucent tape or reflective decals. Both options will help stop birds from seeing unobstructed reflections of the sky and as a result, remain safe.   

As for bird feeders, the Audubon Society, the famous bird conservation group, makes two recommendations for bird feeder placement. Place bird feeders within three feet of the nearest window to stop birds from hurting themselves upon liftoff, or place them 30 feet or more away from the nearest window to provide plenty of space to take off.Muskoka Window and Door Centre is here to do all kinds of jobs from installing screens on your windows to completely replacing your old windows and doors. Contact us for a quote today on whatever your job happens to be.

Should I Use Window Film for My Old Windows This Winter?

You may find yourself feeling a breeze or a little too much cool air during the cold fall and winter months. But you may not have the time or money to get old, drafty windows replaced right away. Using insulating window film can be a helpful stopgap solution. 

Not only does insulating window film keep the warm air in, but it provides savings on energy and heating costs. According to Energy Star, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using window film to seal drafts or leaks can save an average of 15% on heating costs and an average of 11% on energy costs. 

Before starting the process of installing an insulating window film, you must first find out just where the leaks and drafts are coming from. Energy Star provides a number of different things that could be a sign of leaks; windows rattling in the wind, gaps around the trim of a window or door, pests or dust entering through specific gaps around a window or door, and paint peeling from a window or door frame. 

If any of these signs lead you to believe you are dealing with a drafty window or door, there are a couple of methods to test where exactly it’s coming from. 

– Try closing your door or window on something thin like a piece of paper. If it is able to be moved with ease, then the window or door is not properly secure. 

– Light a candle or incense and hold it up toward the window. If the smoke floats in one direction or the other, that’s a good indication of a leak. 

It’s important to install window film properly 

Once you have discovered just where the leak or draft is coming from, it’s important to properly install the insulating window film in order to get the benefits of doing so. Energy Star recommends shrink-wrapping the plastic window film by using a source of heat, such as a space heater or hairdryer, during the installation process. 

It is easy to see why insulating window film can be an appealing solution to cold drafts. It can reduce drafts and help you save on heating costs until you are ready for replacements. That way, your cottage will warm up faster if you want to drive up for a weekend here and there or over a long weekend. However, for all the short-term benefits that window film can provide, it is only that: a short-term solution. 

If you are considering using insulating window film because you don’t think anyone in Muskoka replaces windows in winter, think again. We do, and it’s probably more affordable than you think. In fact, winter and early spring are the best times to book your job because we can book it usually within a couple of weeks of your order, depending on whether or not you’re having custom windows made (that can take 2-6 weeks). When it’s time for the long-term solution of properly replacing your drafty windows, Muskoka Window and Door is there for you, even during those cold winter months.

Winter Proofing Your Doors to Keep the Cold Air Outside

After a chilly end to the summer season, it’s fair to say that we might be in for a long and cold winter in Muskoka. It’s a good idea to winter proof your house to minimize energy loss and keep it as comfortable as possible during the cold season. Older doors can be a significant cause of energy loss in your home. Proactively winter proofing your doors is recommended to ensure that you stop wasting energy and can stay warmer all winter long. Best of all, weather proofing is easier than you think and shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon to do. 

Identify air leaks before winter proofing
The first step is to actually identify air leaks and other potential problems areas on or around your door. You can do this numerous ways, including using a lit incense stick around the edges of your door to see where the smoke is most affected and blown in or sucked out. You can also flash a powerful flashlight around the doorframe – if the light leaks to the outside, these areas will need to be addressed. Using these simple methods can help you determine just how much work you have to do to winter proof your door. If the results are less than thrilling, it’s time to get started on the winter proofing process.

Weatherstripping will take care of air leaks
After you’ve detected air leaks around your doors, the first solution you look to should be weatherstripping, the easiest and most cost-effective way to seal drafts around your door frame. Weatherstripping can be purchased at local home improvement and hardware stores and easily installed by any homeowner – all you have to do is remove old weather stripping, clean the area around your door jamb, cut the weatherstripping to the desired length, and fix it to the door jamb. There are several different types of weatherstripping that can be used on your door, including wrapped foam and vinyl. Each type will have its own unique benefits, with foam being more durable and vinyl having a smaller profile.

New door sweeps keep drafts out
The bottom of your door is one of the biggest spots for energy loss, and replacing an old and worn out sweep can make a major difference. The purpose of a door sweep is to seal the gap in the bottom of your door, which often isn’t flush with your door jamb or floor. In addition to keeping out the cold, they can drastically reduce the amount of insects, moisture, and dust that makes its way into your home during the summer. Door sweeps are easy to install and can be matched to the style of your door. Once you’ve measured the width of your door and decided on a door sweep that matches its style and material, all you have to do is mark and drill pilot holes into your door, match the door sweep to the holes, and fix it to the door with screws.

Other fixes to weatherproof your doors
Some fixes will take a little more effort, but can still be effective. Installing a storm door on the exterior of your door can add an extra layer of insulation, significantly lessening draft and air leaks, though this fix is more costly than other options. You can also repair damage to wooden door frames with wood filler or replace the frame entirely, especially if they’ve become warped or have deteriorated over the years. This will help to minimize energy loss and will regulate the temperature inside your home.

Unfortunately, some problems just can’t be fixed. Older doors can only be made so energy efficient, and energy loss will always be a reality. If you’re dealing with old doors, your best bet may be to replace them outright. Installing new doors will greatly increase your home’s energy efficiency, keeping the cold air outside where it belongs and keeping the interior of your home more comfortable all year long.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s premier provider of high performance door and window products. Our experienced team can help you find the perfect door to make your home look as good as new and eliminate those annoying air leaks once and for all. To get started on your door installation project, get in touch with Muskoka Window and Door Centre today.