Cardinals are key players
in a common phenomenon
Spring is here and once again, Duncraft is receiving lots of calls about a strange, but very common phenomenon–cardinals repeatedly flying into windows, car mirrors or any other reflective surface. Other birds have been reported exhibiting the same behavior–bluebirds, robins and wrens to name a few.
What is going on and how do you stop it?
Although female birds have been known to do this, it’s mostly male birds that repeatedly fly into windows. The reason is simple. In spring all birds are staking out territories. Birds seldom allow other birds of the same species to share territories because too many of one species in an area depletes food sources and nesting locations.
A cardinal may tolerate a catbird nesting nearby because the birds are after different nesting locations and different foods, but it won’t tolerate another cardinal. When a male cardinal spots another male, a chasing fight will ensue.
The dominant male gets the mate, the nesting location, the territory and the food in that area.
A lot is at stake!
When a cardinal happens to see its reflection in your window or car mirror, it’s seeing another bird in its territory–and that’s not allowed. The bird will continuously attack until the other bird goes away.
In nature, the other bird will indeed go away, but that reflection just stays there! Being persistent, the cardinal just continues to attack its own reflection.
All you have to do is block the reflection. The easiest way to do this is to put a piece of cardboard on the outside of the window where the bird is attacking. It may not look pretty, but you don’t have to do it for long–only until the bird thinks the other bird has departed.
As soon as the bird is mated and is busy with nest building and feeding nestlings, he’ll calm down and won’t be worried about intruders. Other cardinals will be busy too, in territories of their own.
So, what initially seemed like a mystery turns out to be a simple, springtime response to another bird–and it’s easily remedied!
While you’re here, go ahead…
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NOTE: This article was originally published in March 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.