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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why does that Bird Keep Flying into the Window?

Smack! I have a cardinal that is battling his reflection on my windows. It started last spring when I’m sure his hormones compelled him to defend his territory against the rival spotted in the glass.

I kept the shades down a lot, and that helped. I had this happen once before but it usually stops after a few days.

When winter came, the cardinal continued wrestling with his rival, though less violently than before. I have never seen a bird fight its reflection in winter time, and I was curious why this cardinal was doing such an odd thing. ~ Webberville, Michigan

The attacks on your windows likely began when the bird interpreted its reflection as an intruder on its territory in the spring. Cardinals are highly territorial and defend their nesting area vigorously from other male cardinals. Both robins and cardinals are well known for this type of behavior but it can occur with any bird.

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.

*Available at Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, MI

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have tried all of the above but the Robin just ignores the deterents & keeps attacking the window. We even bought a large plastic owl & placed it right outside the window. Not stopping the Robin's behaviour. Any more suggestions?

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

If you've tried the above suggestions of:
- a helium filled mylar balloon around the window
- a feeder on the window
- coverings over the window
- rubbing a bar of soap or squirting liquid soap over window

The next step is shooing the bird away physically:
- Throw water from a cup or from a hose near the bird to break the window pecking habit
- Take out a pot and pan drum to scare him away with noise

The sooner you interrupt his pattern the easier it is to break the behavior.