Bird Attacking My Window or Vehicle

During the breeding season, birds such as American Robins, Northern Cardinals, Wild Turkeys, and Sandhill Cranes may become territorial near their nests. When one of these birds sees its own reflection in a nearby window or the side of a vehicle, it may try to drive off the “intruder” by repeatedly attacking the window or vehicle. Of course, despite the bird’s best efforts, the “intruder” just won’t go away. Repeated attempts by the bird to get rid of the “intruder” stresses the bird and sometimes results in bill injuries or, in extreme cases, the bird’s death.

This territorial behavior is often seen in Illinois from late April through early August. After the nesting season is finished, the bird will stop attacking windows or vehicles. In the meantime, the best way to help these misguided birds is to alter the reflective qualities of the surface being attacked. This can be done by placing decals on the outside of the window (you will need to use multiple decals). Another option is to temporarily cover the outside of the window with a nonreflective surface. Bug screens are effective, or you can use a sheet of plastic that prevents the bird from seeing its reflection. Clear plastic painter’s drop cloths work well at blocking the reflection while still allowing light into a room. Plastic netting (¼-inch mesh) can also be suspended in front of the window to deter birds from hitting the glass. To protect a vehicle, temporarily move it to a different location, or cover it with a tarp.

A Sandhill Crane is attacking its reflection in the side of a truck.
A Sandhill Crane is attacking its reflection in the side of a truck. This behavior can cause damage to the vehicle and injury to the bird.

Photo: David and JoAnn Schoengold