14 Tips to Stop Cardinal birds Or Robins Crashing Or Attacking Your Windows

Throughout the year, we receive emails asking,

"What can I do to stop Cardinals and Robins from crashing into, pecking, or attacking my windows and car mirrors?"

First things first, we need to know what is causing this weird bird behavior. Why do birds do this?

Cardinals and Robins are very territorial birds.

When birds see another of the same species in their breeding or feeding territory, it instinctively attacks the other bird.

Stop Window Strikes

Your house or car windows act as mirrors to the birds.

When a Cardinal or Robin is close enough to see their reflection, they interpret this as an intruder and begin attacking, pecking, or flying at the window every morning, and throughout the day to chase the intruder away.

Both males and females engage in this behavior. Females see another female and males see another male encroaching on their territory.

Cardinal Attacking Car Mirror

Birds Crashing or Flying into Windows

Thousands of birds, including Cardinals and Robins, die each year, crashing or flying into windows.

In this case, the bird sees a reflection of trees or sky and is unable to tell that the window is a solid barrier.

We, as bird watchers, need to take every measure possible to remedy this problem.

What can you do to stop birds from crashing and flying into your windows?

Decrease the reflectivity of your windows:

  • Pull down your shades: white curtains or blinds can make it difficult for birds to see their reflections.
  • Car mirrors can be covered with paper or plastic bags and held on with rubber bands. If possible, move the car to a different spot.
  • Put the screens in operable windows to make them less reflective.
  • Consider soaping your windows for a couple of weeks during the nesting season.
  • Break up the reflection by hanging something, placing decorative window films, or using 1-inch-wide tape or ribbon to create vertical stripes every four inches on the outside of your windows.
  • Move houseplants away from the glass and close curtains over windows and sliding glass doors whenever possible.
  • Visitors Tips: One of our website visitors, James from Ontario, uses a full-size 8.5 x 11 photo of a person's face. "I've tried changing the face. I tried a male and a female face.

    I tried putting the picture on the back of a chair in the room rather than on the window. All have worked. The Cardinal stopped attacking my window.

    So far, the faces I have tried have all been in color and they have filled the 8.5x11 page," James said. Give it a try. It may work for you.

  • Dave from Florida offers: I went outside and applied some "press-and-seal" to the window which did the trick. It was quick, easy, and can be easily removed when the bird moves on.

  • Pam from Texas offers: I have been able to keep a persistent cardinal from fighting with the windows using the metallic strips used for keeping birds out of fruit trees.
  • Create a physical barrier:

    1. Build a net frame to act as a barricade by mounting fine-mesh netting (available at garden centers or hardware stores) in a rigid frame, using shelf brackets to hold the frame a couple of inches away from the window.
    2. Install indoor-outdoor blinds on the outside of your windows.
    3. Adhesive-backed cut-out silhouettes of hawks or falcons in flight to attach to the outer surfaces of the reflective glass are sold in virtually all stores catering to naturalists and birders.

      Any shape will work. The non-reflective cutout helps the birds focus on the glass and avoid flying into the glass.

    4. If you're a bird watcher and feed birds, consider moving your feeders further away from windows.

    While these measures won't guarantee Cardinals and Robins will stop attacking or crashing into your windows and mirrors, they may minimize the behavior.

    One More Tip From Alex Sally

    Link to Pens Glass Marking Pens

    One last point: This behavior is at its peak during the nesting season. For the most part, this behavior should decrease as soon as the young leave the nest.

    But, for an unfortunate few, it can go all year long.

    Explore more about the Northern Cardinal Habits

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