Turdus Migratorius and Our Windows

© Debbie McKenzie, AL, September 2008

Here we go again. The American Robin in the spring feels territorial and the need to nest. It comes to our windows, flies up to the glass, taps several times with their beak, before sitting on a nearby branch. After a few minutes, the bird does it again, and again, and again, etc. This goes on for several days.

Why do they do this repetitive window bashing? Some claim they see their reflection and try to ward off another bird from their territory. Some claim they see the reflection of the surroundings in the glass and fly toward it. Maybe they see a dark interior under a protective roofline that would make a dry safe nest site. Those are each plausible. Whatever the reason, turdus migratorius is a slow learner.

We’ve tried different strategies to discourage their behavior. Most don’t work. We shake the curtains. The robin flies away and returns later or goes to a different window. We hang teddy bears or animal figures with big eyes. The robins don’t seem to care. This year I tried drawing a big face on a sheet of paper. That didn’t work. Notice how well the trees and sky are reflected. This window is more problematic than most.



Another window has a Vendetta mask hanging in it. Robins don’t seem to appreciate the finer points of literature and history. It looks kind of weird. I wonder what the neighbors think.



12 thoughts on “Turdus Migratorius and Our Windows

  1. shoreacres

    Have you tried hanging an old CD from a string in front of the window, where it can twirl and flash in the wind? Old CDs are standard bird deterrent devices on boats. They don’t work in every case, but they tend to keep sparrows and such away — it might work for you.

    1. Jim Ruebush Post author

      I haven’t considered CDs. They would clatter on the windows worse than the robins in breezy weather. I did read about hanging paper bags with a few pebbles. They would be quieter.

  2. Mrs. P

    Your window looks like a tree in the reflection. Do they think there is a tree in that direction? I like the CD on a string idea, never heard of that.

    We have cardinals that have a morning routine of hopping on the cars and pecking at their reflection in the side mirrors. They do it with all the cars we have, sadly they leave a mess where they perch.

    I don’t have any problems with them pecking on the window, but I do have a bird feeder right next to the window so they probably are more interested in food than the window.

    1. Jim Ruebush Post author

      I think they do see the tree reflection. That makes sense. The CDs would clatter on the windows in breezy weather. Maybe hang paper bags with a few pebbles. They would be quieter.

      1. Mrs. P

        On a friends balcony, to discourage birds from pooping all over it we took fishing line and tied small pieces of clear plastic to create a flapping movement. We wrapped this around thin PVC pipe which we ziptied onto the backside of the balcony rails.

        Our strategy was to find a solution that wasn’t too visibly noticeable. It worked pretty well and lasted a good six months before the plastic needed to be replaced. The fishing line and PVC stayed intact.


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