If Birds Peck at Your Windows and Mirrors, This is What it Means

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman explain why birds engage in these behaviors, and what you can do to prevent it.

house finch pecking at window

How to Stop a Bird From Pecking at a Window

Question: “A cardinal bird is pecking at my window constantly. How do I make it stop?” asks Kay Baker of Mercer, Pennsylvania.

Kenn and Kimberly: When a bird starts pecking at a window like that, it has mistaken its reflection for another bird and is trying to drive it away. Some individuals become obsessed with these phantom rivals and may attack them for weeks.

The only real solution is to do away with the reflection itself. Try rubbing a bar of soap on the outside of your windows in all the spots that the bird visits regularly.

The cardinal should lose its drive to defend its territory after the breeding season wanes. So even if you can’t block all the reflections, this behavior should end after a few weeks.

A male cardinal attacking the side mirror of a car.

Birds Pecking at Car Mirrors

Question: “Why do cardinals peck at my vehicle’s side mirror?” asks Patricia Ekakiadis of Avonmore, Pennsylvania.

Kenn and Kimberly: Cardinals, like many other birds, defend a territory during the nesting season to make sure they have enough space and food for themselves, their mate and their young. If a male cardinal sees another male cardinal in his territory, he chases the trespasser away.

Unfortunately, he can’t tell the difference between a real cardinal and a reflection in a mirror. So he might spend hours trying to chase away this false intruder that can’t be intimidated. You might try covering the mirror when you’re not driving your car so this defensive cardinal can go about his business.

Woman Closing Window In Room At Home

Preventing Birds From Flying Into Windows

Another bird issue involves preventing them from flying into the windows of your home, potentially suffering a serious injury or death. According to the American Bird Conservancy, in the U.S. alone roughly one billion birds die every year from hitting windows. It peaks during spring and fall migration. Find out if birds can see glass windows.

Luckily, you can take some simple steps to help mitigate the issue. Try hanging brightly colored or reflective objects behind or in front of your exterior windows.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.