WHY BIRDS ATTACK CARS AND WINDOWS

It’s a new routine. Wherever I park my car on a particular wooded lane, I return to find mama Cardinal attacking the car’s reflective surfaces, both side mirrors and the windshield. She perches in the branches above chortling a medley of warning songs and then swoops in to peck and gnash at herself. I have tried moving my car further down the lane and have covered the mirrors with bags, but still, she perceives my car as “the enemy” and finds a shiny surface at which to strike.

Northern Cardinals, American Robins, and Turkeys are the species we most often hear attack  cars and windows. Northern Mockingbirds and American Goldfinches fly at reflective surfaces as well. The behavior is a territorial display; the bird sees in the object its own reflection and imagines the image is competition, or a threat to its nestlings. Some birds, like Mourning Doves, don’t require a large territory whereas I have read that Black-capped Chickadees will chase off interlopers in as much as a 17 acre territory. The mama Cardinal may continue for the entire nesting season, which is of concern as I don’t want her to wear herself out. Next time when at the wooded lane I’ll try parking even further away.

8 comments

  • Hi Kim. I had a robin going after the front window of my house, repeatedly, all day a few weeks ago. I was so worried for it and was told that he thought he had found a mate. I tried to take pics. Thanks and best, Donna

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    • Yes it is worrisome Donna–time spent attacking shiny surfaces is time spent not nesting. I’ve seen Robins and male Turkeys demonstrate this territorial display, but a first for Cardinals. It didn’t happen this morning when I went to check on Plovers but it was really howling and stormy.

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  • Yes objects are closer than appears and they do get testy when hormones are in full swing territorial! 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂 This was one I can relate to so much good capture! 🙂

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    • Thank you Dave, in the right place at the right time.

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      • Yes but you and quite a few others on this blog GMG are very aware of surroundings, places and know the good spots from all the journeys and adventures! We saw this as younger children there always asking too many questions, but 99% of the time they (those we asked) provided answers and context like a native friend told me passed down from older man be a sponge soaking it all up! 🙂 Dave 🙂

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  • Karen Pischke BSN, RN

    Ha! Maybe throw a towel over your mirror when you park. 😉 Great photos Kim! ‘Right place, right time’ kind of shot. Somewhere I have video of a turkey attacking a mirror on a headstone in a cemetery. You just reminded me. I agree with Dave and Donna – “Beautiful” shots and “great capture” of a passing moment. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Karen Pischke BSN, RN

    Wow! That is one territorial bird. :O I’ll see if I can resurrect the video to share with GMG.

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