The mesmerizing sight of a cardinal’s bright plumage is often a welcome spectacle in many gardens. However, when these beautiful birds repeatedly fly into windows, it not only raises concerns for their safety but also poses the question:
Why do they engage in this seemingly perplexing behavior?
Delving deeper into the world of cardinals and their interactions with reflective surfaces, we also explore humane solutions to this recurrent issue.
Cardinals, like many birds, fly into windows because they often mistake the reflected environment in the glass for the real world. During the breeding season, male cardinals are highly territorial. When they see their reflection in a window, they may perceive it as a rival male and repeatedly fly into the window to try and drive the “intruder” away. This behavior can be persistent and may lead to injury.
- Cardinals and Windows: Cardinals, especially during their breeding season, mistakenly see their own reflection in windows as rival birds, leading them to attack or fly into these surfaces.
- Territorial Behavior: Male cardinals typically defend their territory against other males, while female cardinals focus on protecting the nest and Cardinal Eggs mainly from other females. The reflection in the glass window triggers their territorial instincts in these stubborn birds.
- Reflections Can Deceive: Cardinals might also interpret the window reflection as open space, causing them to fly directly into it.
- Safe and Effective Solutions:
- Relocate Bird Feeders: Place them either within 3 feet of the window or further than 30 feet away.
- Anti-Collision Window Film (Decals): Use these to break up reflections on large windows.
- Invisible Lines: Draw vertical lines using a chartreuse highlighter on your window; birds see the color, humans generally don’t.
- Reflective Scare Tape: Hanging this outside a window can break reflections and deter the birds.
- Use Blinds or Drapes: Closing these can immediately halt the wild birds behavior.
- Position Plants Near the Window: Both outdoor and indoor plants can help disrupt the window’s reflection.
- Car Windows: Cardinals might also attack car windows due to the same reflection issue. Simple solution: Move the car.
- Prevention & Injury Reduction: Setting up a ground feeding area can deter cardinals from window areas. Ensure feeders are strategically placed to reduce impact force but still give joy as a bird watcher.
Preventing Birds from Flying into Windows
One effective way to prevent birds from crashing into windows is by decreasing their reflectivity. This can be done by pulling down shades, especially white curtains or blinds, which make it difficult for birds to see their reflections.
If you have car mirrors that birds frequently attack, consider covering them with paper or plastic bags and securing them with rubber bands. If possible, you can also move your car to a different location where it is less visible to the birds.
Car Mirror Attacks
Car mirrors are often a common target for bird attacks. By covering the mirrors with paper or plastic bags, you can eliminate the reflective surface that birds mistake for another male cardinal. It’s important to secure the covers tightly with rubber bands to ensure they don’t come off easily.
Window shades or blinds can significantly reduce the reflectivity of windows, making it less likely for birds to mistake their reflections for intruders. Pulling down these shades or blinds during the breeding and nesting seasons can help minimize bird collisions with windows.
Birds often mistake windows for open spaces when viewing their reflections. By creating straight lines every four inches on the outside of windows using 1-inch-wide tape or ribbon, you can help break up the reflection and make it more apparent to the birds that it is not an open space.
You can even draw invisible lines with markers they can see but humans cannot. This simple yet effective technique can significantly reduce the risk of bird collisions.
Installing indoor-outdoor blinds
If you have houseplants near windows, consider moving them away from the glass. Birds may mistake the plants’ reflections as potential hiding places for intruders and attack the window. Closing curtains or blinds over windows and sliding glass doors whenever possible also eliminates the reflective surface that attracts birds.
To create a physical barrier between birds and windows, you can build a net frame using fine-mesh netting. This netting can be mounted in a rigid frame and placed a couple of inches away from the window using shelf brackets. The net frame acts as a barricade that prevents birds from flying directly into the window.
Indoor-outdoor blinds mounted on the outside of windows are another effective preventive measure. These blinds reduce the reflectivity of the glass and create a barrier that birds are less likely to fly into. Installing these blinds can be especially beneficial during the nesting season when bird attacks are more frequent.
Using predatory birds decoys
Many stores catering to naturalists and birders sell adhesive-backed cut-out silhouettes of hawks or falcons in flight. These non-reflective cutouts can be attached to the outer surfaces of windows, redirecting birds’ attention away from their reflections and making them more aware of the window’s presence.
If you have the bird feeder near windows, consider moving them further away. By reducing the proximity of the feeders to windows, you minimize the chances of birds colliding with the glass while attempting to reach the feeders. This simple step can help protect both the birds and your windows.
Behavior During Nesting Season
Increase in attacking behavior during nesting
During the nesting season, the attacking behavior of Cardinals and Robins may intensify. This heightened aggression is due to their increased territorial instincts and the need to protect their nests and young from potential threats. It is important to be extra vigilant during this period and take additional precautions to prevent bird collisions.
Behavior may decrease after young leave the nest
Fortunately, for most Cardinals and Robins, the aggressive behavior towards windows tends to decrease after the Cardinal Fledglings leave the nest. As the breeding season comes to an end, the birds’ territorial instincts subside, and they no longer perceive their reflections as threats. However, for some individuals, this behavior may persist throughout the year, necessitating ongoing preventative measures.
How to Get Rid of Cardinals
It’s essential to approach the issue of managing or to stop cardinals with kindness and humanity, understanding that they play a vital role in the ecosystem. If you have specific reasons for wanting to deter cardinals from a particular area (e.g., they’re causing disruptions or damaging property), here are some humane methods you can employ:
- Relocate Bird Feeders: If you have bird feeders, consider moving them to a different location. Cardinals are attracted to bird feeders, especially those with sunflower seeds.
- Use Specific Seeds: Some seeds, like safflower seeds, aren’t as attractive to cardinals but might attract other birds. Switching to these seeds can deter cardinals while still feeding other species.
- Install Decoys: Sometimes, a decoy predatory bird, like an owl or hawk, can deter smaller birds from coming too close. Make sure to move the decoy around every couple of days so birds don’t become accustomed to it.
- Modify Habitats: Cardinals are attracted to dense shrubs and small trees. If possible, trim these plants, or consider landscaping with plants that are less attractive to cardinals.
- Sound Deterrents: There are devices available that use distress calls or predator calls to deter specific bird species. While these might deter cardinals for a while, they may grow accustomed to the noise over time and won’t stop a cardinal attacking other birds or windows.
- Reflective Objects: Hanging reflective objects, like CDs, aluminum foil strips, or reflective tape, can deter cardinals due to the reflected light. This method can be temporary and might not work for everyone.
- Close Blinds or Curtains: If cardinals are consistently flying into or pecking at your windows, simply closing your blinds or curtains can deter them.
- Limit Water Sources: If you have birdbaths or other sources of water, consider removing them or relocating them to a less problematic area.
- Netting: If you’re trying to protect specific areas like fruit trees, consider using bird netting. Ensure the mesh is not too fine, so birds don’t become tangled.
Common Questions on Cardinals Attacking Windows
How do you get rid of nuisance cardinals?
To deter cardinals from specific areas, consider removing bird feeders temporarily or repositioning them. You can also try using bird netting to prevent them from accessing certain areas, such as garden beds or patios.
What scares a cardinal?
Cardinals, like many birds, can be startled by sudden movements or loud noises. Devices like motion-activated sprinklers, reflective objects, or wind chimes can sometimes deter them. Additionally, visual bird deterrents, like hawk silhouettes, might make them feel threatened and cause them to avoid the area.
What does it mean when you have a lot of cardinals in your yard?
Having a lot of cardinals in your yard typically indicates a suitable habitat with ample food, water, and shelter sources. It could also mean that there are fewer predators or threats in the area, making it a safer place for them to congregate.
How do I stop cardinals from attacking my car mirrors?
Cardinals may attack car mirrors because they see their reflection and think it’s a rival bird. To prevent this:
- Cover the mirrors with bags or cloth when the car is parked.
- Use a non-reflective or matte screen protector over the mirror.
- Park in a different location, if possible, to disrupt the bird’s pattern.
What does it mean when a cardinal stays around your house?
If a cardinal stays around your house, it often means your property provides essential resources like food, water, and shelter. However, some people also believe in spiritual or symbolic interpretations, viewing the cardinal as a messenger or a sign of a departed loved one’s presence. The specific meaning can vary based on personal beliefs and cultural traditions.