About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Question of the week: Why is the cardinal attacking my window?

Cardinals and Windows
video

Cardinals are highly territorial of an area they have chosen for nesting. Males vigorously defend their territory from other male cardinals and will even attack their own reflection in a window or car mirror. Even females will attack windows, which can be quite distressing to people living inside the house.

If the attack on windows is a regular occurrence and not just an accidental window strike, the likely behavior is a reaction to the bird seeing an intruder on its territory. The problem most frequently occurs during the breeding season.

Both Robins and Cardinals are well known for this type of behavior but it can occur with just about any other bird. A simple solution to this problem is to cover the window with screens or rub the window with a bar of soap to decrease the reflection. Wild Birds Unlimited also sells a 48 inch by 6 inch static-cling decal called Cardinal Alert which is made to be placed across a window just above the lower edge.

To increase success, interrupt the bird’s bad behavior by going outside when the bird first attacks or even going so far as to spray it with a hose. The objective here is to shock the bird out of its pattern of territoriality. Hopefully these suggestions will be enough to stop the attacks.

4 comments:

  1. I have a stain glass window that is white red and blue. Right outside the window is a bush. The window itself does not cause a reflection and barely any lights comes to the window due to the bush. The window faces east so if there is minimal light. A cardinal has been attacking it for at least two weeks now and when I come out he would fly to a nearby oak tree and watch me. When I step back into the house he would resume the attack.

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  2. I've had a male cardinal attacking my windows all year long. Spring, Summer, Winter. Rubber snakes, owls, decals, nothing works. This bird is crazy. Nesting season is long gone and yet he still attacks at all hours of the day. :( Help.

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  3. When you see a bird take offense at seeing his reflection in your windows or car mirrors take action immediately! His domineering behavior should be curbed before it becomes just a bad habit. The objective is to shock the bird out of its pattern of territoriality.

    Most birds do stop after a couple weeks of window pounding in the spring, but it's better to try and deter the birds just in case it turns out to be an action that is performed so often that it becomes almost an involuntary response.

    Some tips to deter bird window attacks:
    • Cover the window with screens
    • Shut the blinds on your windows when you are not at home and at night.
    • Rub the window with a bar of soap to decrease the reflection.
    • Hang balloons or Flutter Scare tape. Anything that moves and repels the bird from that area will be effective.
    • Post a hawk silhouette outside a window. Hawks prey on birds, so their images will keep birds from flying towards your window.
    • Install a window feeder.* This breaks the reflection and other birds interrupt the birds battles with himself.

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  4. Thank you! It's spring in Michigan and I've had a crazy male cardinal attack three different windows on my house...needed the tips!

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