How to Stop Birds From Attacking Windows (Why Do Robins Knock on Glass?)
Unusual, Aggressive Bird-Pecking Behavior
Have you ever been sitting quietly at home or in your car when a bird starts to attack the window? A robin recently used my living room window as a target and flew repeatedly at the glass. These demented attacks on a window pane or car wing-mirror can last from 10 to 20 minutes. The same bird may repeat this action several times a day.
If you’ve never seen this type of bird behavior, take a look at the video below. It shows a cardinal repeatedly throwing itself against window in the same manner as the one in my garden. This strange behavior can last several weeks.
Ways to Stop a Bird From Tapping or Pecking at Your Window
The best way to prevent a bird from attacking your window is to break up the reflection of its image so the bird doesn't attack its reflection thinking it's a competitor.
- Use highlighters to draw a grid on your window: This is the best method. It works immediately and is recommended by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service. Birds can see the highlighting, but it is barely visible to humans.
- Cover up the window: You could break up reflections by leaving the window dirty or by using decals. This doesn't really work and stops light from entering the room.
- Use stick-on deflectors or shiny objects (old CDs) to break up reflection and distract: Shiny hanging objects aren't very effective, but stick-on deflectors can work and are easy to apply.
- Close exterior shades and blinds: This is not really an effective solution as you are sacrificing daylight and views for the sake of preventing birds pecking at the windows.
- Shade the window with an awning: This may work as it breaks up reflections, but can be an expensive option.
- Install wind-chimes or water-fountain as a distraction: These are fun to have but are not an effective bird deterrent.
How to Stop Birds From Attacking Windows
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 to 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. One 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 to use florescent marker pens as described towards the end of this article.
Remove Bird's Mirror-Like Self-Reflections
The advice given by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a British wildlife charity) to prevent birds attacking panes of glass 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.
You could use a medium-weight plastic painter's drop cloth instead. 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 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. Bird's Eye View window deflector
Draw Gridlines on Your Window Using Highlighters
The best solution I’ve found to this problem is one recommended by Texas Parks and Wildlife Service. It involves drawing grid lines on your windows using fluorescent marker pens (highlighters). It’s cheap and easy to do. It can be done from inside your property so there’s no need to worry about climbing ladders. Best of all, it works!
How 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 a 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 is remarkable the difference a few highlighter lines can make.
How to Keep Birds From Hitting Your Windows
Summary of Texas Parks and Wildlife Service Method
- Clean the inside of your windows using a propriety glass cleaner.
- 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.)
- The horizontal lines should be less than 2” (5 cm) apart. The vertical lines need to be no more than 4” (10cm) apart.
- You will need to reapply the grid every week or so as daylight will gradually fade the florescent ink.
- That’s it. The job is done. Problem Solved!
- Now you can sit back and enjoy birdwatching without the head-banging tactics.
When birds attack your window, do you ...
Why Do Birds Fly Into Windows?
Birds fly into windows for three reasons:
- They fly into a reflection of a tree or plant thinking its real. When birds see reflection of vegetation or they see through the glass to indoor plants, they fly straight for it at full speed.
- Male birds attack their own reflections to defend their territory. These 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 birds attack their reflection in the glass thinking it's a rival bird.
- Night-migrating birds become disoriented by lighted windows. Because these birds navigate by starlight, artificial building lights can confuse them and divert their migration patters. Birds either collide with the windows or they hover around lighted windows until they get exhausted. A single lit city building can kill thousands of migrating birds in just one night.
Do Shiny Balloons Scare Away Birds?
Some people think that hanging balloons in front of glass will frighten away wildlife. In my opinion, they are not an effective deterrent. You would need to keep them inflated and moving to have any effect at all.
Animals see colors in a different way to humans so red objects do not scare them. Hanging shiny items such as balloons or CD discs can be a temporary deterrent, but you would need to place them in a draught to keep them on the move.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.