This is What It Means When Birds Peck at Your Windows and Mirrors

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Written By Jim J Neal

Kenn Kaufman and Kimberly Kaufman, birding experts, explain why birds exhibit these behaviors and what you can to stop it.

How to stop a bird from pecking at a window

Question A cardinal bird keeps pecking at my windows. Kay Baker, Mercer, Pennsylvania asks how to stop it.

Kenn & Kimberly: A bird that starts to peck at a window in this manner is mistaking its reflection for another bird. It is trying to drive it away. These phantom enemies can become a problem for some people and they may even attack them for weeks.

Eliminating the reflection is the only solution. You can rub a bar soap on your windows outside in the areas that the bird frequents.

After the breeding season, the cardinal should stop trying to defend its territory. Even if it is impossible to block all reflections, the behavior should cease after a few weeks.

img alt=”A male bird attacking the car’s side mirror.” class=”wp-image-5584170 size-large” data-lazy-src=”×467.jpg” height=”467″ loading=”lazy” src=”data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=’’%20viewBox=’0%200%20700%20467’%3E%3C/svg%3E” width=”700″/>A male cardinal attacking the side mirror of a car.

Birds inspect car mirrors

Question: Patricia Ekakiadis, Avonmore (Pennsylvania) asks “Why do cardinals peck my vehicle’s sidemirror?”

Kenn, Kimberly: Cardinals defend their territory during nesting season, just like other birds. This is to ensure they have enough food and space for their mate, as well as their young. A male cardinal chases away any male cardinals who enter his territory.

He can’t distinguish between a real cardinal or a reflection in the mirror. He might spend hours trying unsuccessfully to evade this intruder. This defensive cardinal might be able to go about his business by covering your mirror while you aren’t driving your car.

Preventing Birds from Flying Into Windows

You can also prevent birds from flying into your windows, causing serious injury or even death. The American Bird Conservancy estimates that approximately one billion birds are killed each year by windows in the United States. It is most prominent during spring and autumn migration.

There are simple ways to mitigate this problem. Hang brightly colored, reflective objects behind your exterior windows.

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