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Diatribe: Kamikaze Cardinals.

05/24/2014

cardinal-at-window-21We enjoy feeding the birds around our house and this is the time of year when we see the most activity.  Flowers are blooming and the trees finally have all of their leaves so the birds are busy building nests.  We have one feeder that I particularly enjoy because it is positioned outside a window so that I can see it from my favorite spot on the sofa.  It attracts a variety of backyard birds including blue jays, woodpeckers, chickadees and cardinals.  This particular spring, we’ve been inundated with an extraordinary amount of cardinals.  And they’ve taken to throwing themselves against the windows of our house from sunrise to sunset every day!

Although female birds have been known to do this, its usually the male birds that repeatedly fly into windows, car mirrors and other reflective surfaces.  The reason for this common phenomenon is really very simple … in spring all birds are staking out territories and they seldom allow other birds of the same species to share territories because too many of one species in an area will deplete food sources and nesting locations.  A cardinal, for example, may tolerate a bluebird nesting nearby because they are after different nesting locations and different foods, but it won’t tolerate another cardinal.

When a cardinal happens to see its reflection in a window, it thinks it’s seeing another bird in its territory and it will attack it, continuously, until the other bird goes away.  In nature, the other bird will eventually go away but the reflection never leaves so the cardinal continues to attack its own reflection sometimes to the point of injuring or even killing itself.

It appears that the only way to put a stop to these avian antics is to cover our windows with brown paper or cardboard to eliminate the reflections until such time as the birds thinks the other bird has left the area.  As soon as the birds have mated and are busy with nest building and feeding their babies, they’ll calm down and stop worrying about intruders.  Other cardinals will be busy, too, in territories of their own.

Since so many of our windows are on the second floor, we won’t be covering them.  It seems that I’ll be waking at daybreak until such time as the birds have all settled in, built their nests and started their families.  Or broken all their necks.

Are birds flying into YOUR windows this spring?

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4 Comments
  1. In our first house, we had these two corner windows that looked like you could fly through. We had several birds attempt to do so to a terrible end. As for the Cardinals, we have many at our current house. I read where they mate for life, so that may be the reason for their territorial nature.

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  2. thedogs'mother permalink

    Occasionally. But mostly thru being in a hurry and not territorial disputes. What we have to watch for is fledglings falling out of our big pine tree and Abby, The Hunter Dog, pouncing on them.

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  3. Well that explains it! Happens to me regularly, usually when I’m completely relaxed, sitting on my family room sofa, then . . . Wham! Scares the crap out of me. Thankfully there have been no casualties, bird or human.

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