If Birds Peck at Your Windows and Mirrors, This is What it Means
Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman explain why birds engage in these behaviors, and what you can do to prevent it.
How to Stop a Bird From Pecking at a Window
Question: “A cardinal bird is pecking at my window constantly. How do I make it stop?” asks Kay Baker of Mercer, Pennsylvania.
Kenn and Kimberly: When a bird starts pecking at a window like that, it has mistaken its reflection for another bird and is trying to drive it away. Some individuals become obsessed with these phantom rivals and may attack them for weeks.
The only real solution is to do away with the reflection itself. Try rubbing a bar of soap on the outside of your windows in all the spots that the bird visits regularly.
The cardinal should lose its drive to defend its territory after the breeding season wanes. So even if you can’t block all the reflections, this behavior should end after a few weeks.
Birds Pecking at Car Mirrors
Question: “Why do cardinals peck at my vehicle’s side mirror?” asks Patricia Ekakiadis of Avonmore, Pennsylvania.
Kenn and Kimberly: Cardinals, like many other birds, defend a territory during the nesting season to make sure they have enough space and food for themselves, their mate and their young. If a male cardinal sees another male cardinal in his territory, he chases the trespasser away.
Unfortunately, he can’t tell the difference between a real cardinal and a reflection in a mirror. So he might spend hours trying to chase away this false intruder that can’t be intimidated. You might try covering the mirror when you’re not driving your car so this defensive cardinal can go about his business.
Preventing Birds From Flying Into Windows
Another bird issue involves preventing them from flying into the windows of your home, potentially suffering a serious injury or death. According to the American Bird Conservancy, in the U.S. alone roughly one billion birds die every year from hitting windows. It peaks during spring and fall migration.
Luckily, you can take some simple steps to help mitigate the issue. Try hanging brightly colored or reflective objects behind or in front of your exterior windows.