How to Stop Birds Attacking Window Glass

Updated on December 29, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Friends say I have "green-fingers" and the garden certainly seems to respond to my efforts. I enjoy observing wildlife and being outdoors.

An American Robin searching for food in a Missouri field.
An American Robin searching for food in a Missouri field. | Source

Unusual Aggressive Bird Pecking Behavior

Have you ever been sitting quietly at home when a bird starts to attack your window? A robin has recently started using my living room window as a target. The attacks on the glass pane can last from 10 to 20 minutes each and may happen several times a day. If you’ve never seen this type of bird behavior, the video below shows a robin repeatedly throwing itself against window in the same manner as the one in my garden. This aggressive behavior can last for several weeks.

Some birds, for example both American and European robins, are very territorial. These bird-window attacks take place most often in spring (the breeding season) and in the fall (when birds are newly arrived on migration from another country). Scientists believe that the birds attack their reflection in the glass thinking it is a rival bird.

Robin Attacking Window

Stop Birds Hitting Your Windows

Leave window dirty or cover it over.
Stops light entering your room.
Use decals to break up bird's reflection.
Good for children's bedrooms
Wind chimes or water sprinker as distraction.
Can be annoying for you too.
Use shiny objects (old CDs etc) to distract.
Not very effective.
Use flurescent marker pen grid (highlighters).
Recommended by Texas Parks and Wildlife Service
Use a stick-on window deflector.
Easy to use.
These methods are all described in more detail in this article.

Stop Pecking by Removing Reflections

Birds may not realize that there is glass in your window opening. If it is really clean they fly towards it not expecting to have their route blocked. These are usually one-off crashes and a bird will learn not to repeat the experience. However, if the bird is flying into your window because of the reflection then it will aggressively attack the image repeatedly as it attempts t see off the "intruder".

If you want to change this behavior then you need to remove the causal trigger. You need to block the images that garden birds are reacting to. Window reflections happen when a pane is clean and daylight conditions are right for mirror-like images to occur. Onw way to deal with this problem would be to leave windows dirty or boarded over, but this would be extreme.

Some (slightly) better suggestions are given in the video below. The suggestions given include using window decals or wind-chimes or water sprinkler to distract the birds. However, the best and most effective solution is given towards the end of this article.

How to Stop Birds From Attacking Windows

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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

The advice given by the RSPB (a British wildlife charity) on their website to prevent birds attacking your windows, is to cover the outside of targeted windows with non-reflective cellophane. The problem with this is that wind and rain will quickly make the cellophane come adrift and ineffective. Their alternative suggestion is to cover the inside of affected windows with newspaper or lots of decals. Or you could leave curtains and blinds drawn to make the glass non-reflective. However, there’s a huge disadvantage to these solutions. The birds may stop pecking your window, but you will no longer be able to enjoy looking out through it.

Someone suggested to me that using a medium-weight plastic painter's drop cloth could be an option. The cloudy plastic will allow you to see out and let a reasonable amount of light enter, but will eliminate the bird’s reflections. The idea is to attach the plastic sheet to the top of the outside of your window and leave it to hang loosely. Any movement in the sheet caused by breezes will help to scare away the bird.

I have found that a Bird's Eye View window deflector works well. It breaks up the clear view of the glass for birds and stops them striking at their reflection. At the same time it's small enough not to obstruct your view of the outside. It's also easy to remove from the window if you should want to.

The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) perched on a branch.
The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) perched on a branch. | Source

Shiny Decoy Objects as Distraction

Another technique that can work is to use decoy objects. Shiny items like old CDs or computer disks can be hung on pieces of string to distract the bird. Shiny helium balloons can be hung from nearby trees or from an overhanging gutter. When attacked, a balloon or a CD reacts in a way not expected by the bird and so can act as a deterrent to its aggressive behavior.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Service Recommends

The best solution I’ve found to this problem is fluorescent marker pens (highlighters). It’s cheap and easy to apply. It can be done from the inside so you don’t need to worry about climbing ladders. And best of all, it works!

The pigment in the highlighters can be seen by birds but is difficult for humans to see, so it doesn’t interfere with your view out of the window too much. Drawing a grid of lines with a fluorescent marker breaks up the bird’s reflection, so the repetitive pecking behavior stops. The effect is virtually instant. The video below was made by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service and demonstrates the difference in bird behavior between a marked window and an unmarked one. It quite remarkable the difference a few lines can make.

Tips to Keep Birds From Hitting Your Windows

Summary of Texas Parks and Wildlife Service Method

1. Clean the inside of your windows using a propriety glass cleaner.

2. Next, use a highlighter to draw a grid of lines on the inside of the affected window. (This is the one that the bird is using for its target practice.)

3. The horizontal lines should be less than 2” (5 cm) apart. The vertical lines need to be no more than 4” (10cm) apart.

4. You will need to reapply the grid every week or so as daylight will gradually fade the florescent ink.

5. That’s it. The job is done. Problem Solved!

6. Now you can sit back and enjoy birdwatching without the head-banging tactics.

American Robin (Turdus Migratorius) in a Brazilian pepper tree with red berries.
American Robin (Turdus Migratorius) in a Brazilian pepper tree with red berries. | Source


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  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

    Fascinating! I've never had my windows attacked like that but we have had birds fly straight into them, not realising there was an obstacle, mostly blue tits and finches.

    The highlighter solution is a clever one.

    Lovely photos too!