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The warmer weather of spring makes your yard come alive with blooming plants and flowers and the arrival of songbirds. Welcoming the new avian species with bird feeders and birdbaths is an excellent way to increase the number of colorful birds in your yard, but it can also cause problems. Some birds construct nests in inconvenient places like light fixtures, and others enjoy attacking your windows. Why do birds peck at windows? Although the strange behavior is not entirely understood, these two theories seem the most plausible.
First, most birds choose mates and breed during the spring. From April to August, window pecking is more common because the couples are more protective of their nests and food sources. Birds establish territories in your yard when they adopt it as a new habitat. If a window is close to a nest, a bird will see its reflection and assume the image is a rival and try to attack it. Some birds will stop the behavior after a few days, but others may continue peaking the glass for several weeks without human interference.
The second reason for pecking is the small creatures that congregate on the glazing or caulking of the window frame. Spiders and insects are food for birds, and a hungry bird can damage the window’s putty if it frequently pecks it for daily snacks. If a bird attacks a clean window molding that’s bug-free, it may be attracted to the natural oils in the putty.
It’s hard to keep the blinds closed on a beautiful sunny day, but it can prevent an irritating bird from attacking the glass. Birds are unlikely to target several windows in your home, but the ones that create reflections from the sunlight are the most common targets. If you have storm shutters on the exterior of your home, you can close them instead of using the blinds or curtains on the interior.
The brick or wooden molding next to the window provides a comfortable perch for visiting birds, but you can make it less hospital by using deterrents. Scat mats, used to keep napping felines off of windowsills, can be cut into small strips to fit the perching area. The mats have raised plastic spikes that do not harm birds or wildlife but prevent animals from resting or perching.
Noise deterrents, activated by the wind, can also keep birds away but are less effective than physical deterrents. Loud wind chimes and other lawn ornaments that spin may dissuade a bird from pecking the glass. However, some birds adapt to the loud noise after several days and may decide to peck the window regardless of the noise.
Installing a screen behind the target window can eliminate the refection and convince the winged visitor to move on. Darker-tinted screens reduce glare better than the light gray ones, but the thinner, lighter units let more light into your home. If your window is not designed to accept an interior screen, you can temporarily attach a piece of mesh to the outside or inside of the window. It does not look as attractive as an installed screen, but you can take it down when the bird loses interest.
Although it’s not aesthetically pleasing, a piece of cardboard taped to the window will eliminate the glare. A newspaper will also work, but cardboard works better on windy days. A plastic grocery bag can also deter birds, and the movement of the plastic in the wind may persuade the bird to move away.
If you’re looking for a more attractive option, you can add decals to the window to reduce the reflection. Stickers will also work, but it’s easier to use a decal that does not leave sticky residue on the glass.
Clean windows provide the best reflective surfaces, but you can add a layer of soapy film to the window to reduce the glare. Apply dish soap with a sponge to both sides of the glass to make the window less transparent. The window will attract more dirt and grime, but you can scrub it after your visitor has left the area.
Most homeowners install birdfeeders near windows to observe colorful songbirds, but keeping the feeders close to the windows can encourage the birds to attack the reflections. The birds may not visit the window perches if you move the feeders farther away. However, you can keep hummingbird feeders close to the windows because the birds are not known to attack the glass.
A motion-activated noisemaker can convince birds to move away from the area. However, some species leave at first but will return if they decide the noise is not a threat. Several companies make ultrasonic devices to deter birds and other creatures, but the products have had mixed results. While some homeowners claim the noisemakers repel pests, scientific studies have not concluded that the products are effective. In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned 60 manufacturers of ultrasonic devices that their claims were not supported by science, and in 2003, the FTC sued one of the companies for violating its terms.
Side mirrors and windows on your vehicle can also be targets for protective birds. You can use similar methods to cover car windows as you would on your house, but it may not be practical to keep cardboard taped to your glass. Instead, you can cover your side mirrors with plastic grocery bags and insert a garbage bag to protect a car window. Moving your vehicle to another area of your street can also keep the same bird from pecking on the glass.
If you’re planning to install an awning over your windows to reduce energy costs, you can keep the birds away at the same time. Since the canopy increases the shade on the windows, the reflection can be eliminated. However, installing an awning only to keep birds away is an expensive prospect.
Some birds will peck at the caulking around the windows to get bugs or feast on the oil in the putty. You can replace the putty with a synthetic product that does not contain the oil or use an all-natural deterrent spray on the molding to keep the birds away. Cleaning the windows and glazing will keep bugs from visiting and deter spiders from building webs near the glass.
If you have an excessive window pecker that visits every day, your window will probably receive more damage than the bird. Birds with softer beaks can hurt themselves from pecking glass, but most birds seem to attack the window for several minutes or longer without injuries. Although the behavior is not physically hazardous, pecking glass can raise the bird’s anxiety level if it fears the reflection is a worthy rival. Keeping the birds away with deterrents will lower their stress levels and protect your glass from damage.
Flying visitors, excluding insects, bring color and excitement into your yard. Watching birds collect food, argue with other species, and chase each other around the yard is amusing, but the fun ends when they peck at your windows. Except for installing an awning, every method that we discussed for deterring birds is affordable and effective. When you eliminate the reflection on the glass, the bird will no longer see a rival threatening its territory and will leave the window alone.
Featured Image Credit: analogicus, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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