Got a wild bird that won’t stop pecking at your window? Here’s some tips to stop the behavior without harming the bird.
For more birding tips, also see Wild Bird Houses, Nesting Boxes and Feeding Tips.
Help! This Bird Won’t Stop Pecking My Window!
NEW! Click play to listen:
You can subscribe to our free podcast here: Two Minutes in the Garden.
It’s that time of year—wild bird breeding season—when you may hear a bird pecking away at your window.
And they aren’t trying to tell you that your feeder is out of sunflower seeds—although some birdwatchers say birds do this as well.
The most likely reason for this behavior is the aggressively territorial nature of some birds—especially during nesting season—and the reflections in your windows.
Birds in flight see the reflection of trees and sky in windows—not a hard, glass barrier, and fly right into them. This kills hundreds of millions of birds every year in the United States alone.
When resting, a bird sees its own reflection in the glass, perceiving a rival bird. And that means it’s time to defend their territory.
The threatened bird may peck, scratch, and use intimidating postures to get this rival bird to go away. But the poor guy has met his match!
Perhaps some figure it out or give up after a few hard pecks, but for others, the aggression can escalate and they are not backing down.
I’ve had numerous emails from readers over the years sharing stories of birds who fixate on a particular house window or car mirror and persist for days or weeks. It’s not fun!
Robins are well known for this, and some cardinals. But it’s not just them. Bluebirds, sparrows, goldfinches and many others have been known to attack their reflections.
While it’s not as harmful as flying into a window, the incessant tapping is distressing for everyone involved.
7 Tips for Stopping Birds from Pecking on Windows and Mirrors
If you’re looking for a magic solution, there isn’t one.
But there are some things you can try to change the circumstances which in turn may get the bird to give up and move on.
1 Block the Reflection
- Cover up the exterior of the window so there is no reflection.
- If you can’t access it, cover the window from inside.
- Use cardboard or anything else you have that can be taped on.
- Window screen could also help.
- It won’t look great but in most cases the problem is short-lived and that may be enough to stop the bird.
Do window decals work?
Not particularly. Decals are no different than anything else covering the window: you need to cover most of the window to get rid of the reflection.
2 Keep Your Curtains Closed
- If you haven’t already, keep the curtains closed to change the reflection.
- If your window is normally uncovered, add a curtain or blind—anything to change how it looks to the bird.
3 Change the Appearance of the Window
These tips can also prevent birds from flying into windows:
- Use a white paint marking pen (see this one at amazon) and draw white lines on the window: 4 inches apart, the entire way across the window. The bars deter the birds and the marker is removable.
- Hang dangling items in front of the window. It could be cords, stained glass art, strings of beads, or hanging plants.
Here’s a few examples:
See it here
See it here
See it here
See it here
I’ve also wondered if a photo cutout of a cat face would work. I know it sounds silly but it would be interesting to try.
4 Remove or Cover the Perch
- Block or cover whatever the bird is using to sit by the window so it is no longer comfortable or easy to sit there.
5 Add or Remove Bird Feeders
Changing up the environment nearby may also help:
- If you have feeders, remove them.
- Add some if you don’t.
- Either way, you’ll change surrounding bird behaviors which may be enough to get the poor, obsessed one to move on.
6 Add an Awning
This could be temporary or permanent.
- Window awnings block some light and that can be enough to change the reflection both to stop self-admiration and flight collisions.
7 Move the Car
- If it’s a car side mirror and the vehicle is parked at your home, cover the mirror while the car is parked. A rag or plastic bag and an elastic band will do the trick.
- Also, parking the car in a different location can help. I’ve had cardinals that sit (and poop) on our car mirror and just by turning the car around, I was able to stop them. I’m guessing it’s because the reflection was not visible in the shade.
In rare, extreme cases, the behavior can go on a long time, but in most cases, it’s a brief but intense situation.
Keep calm. Respect the bird’s welfare and see what you can do to change the circumstances which in turn should stop the pecking.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛