Glass Houses

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They were an architect’s dream and they certainly improved the view. But they also had darker unintended consequences. Leila Sinclaire has this Perspective.

They say that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I say that people shouldn’t live in glass houses.

Our addition gave us two-story floor-to-ceiling windows; huge, gorgeous, conversation-starting panes of glass. It was only a month before the first bird kamikazied into these windows with a sickening thump. We found it on the newly stained redwood deck, its perfect brown head turned too far to the side. There was no blood. We thought about a burial, but instead put the bird’s soft lifeless body in the compost bin, like it was taking a dirty nap.

Less than a month later, it happened again. This time there was a ribbon of blood next to the bird’s body, upping the horror ante. I googled “stop birds flying into windows” and purchased reusable reflective vinyl art deco stickers from Amazon. We stuck them on the windows. Now the glass looked like a bad preschool art project, a first timer’s mosaic experiment.

Architects deal in dreams. Glass, recently cleaned, looks fantastic in photos and portfolios. It’s there and it’s not there, a classy membrane, a frame for a view, heightening the indoor-outdoor relationship. It’s not supposed to cause wildlife fatalities, but it does.


Another Google search tells me that 988 million birds die each year from crashing into windows in the US alone. A billion. That’s the human population of India in the year 2000.

If we had known that our dream house would create avian havoc, we would have designed it differently. Our verdant view isn't worth the carnage.

Do birds mourn their fallen comrades? I hear them chirping outside my house uninterrupted but perhaps their singing has a more melancholy tone. Or is it back to cheerful business as usual?

With a Perspective, I’m Leila Sinclaire.

Leila Sinclaire is a mother and 6th grade English teacher in Berkeley.