How to stop birds from window pecking


Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist


When thoughts turn to spring, some birds’ thoughts turn to protecting their territories.

Many bird species in our area, including goldfinches, robins, cardinals and bluebirds, attack their images in reflective surfaces in efforts to fend off “intruders.”

The attacks can range from simply pecking at windows to the fatal flying into a window. Pecking is harmful to the birds’ health by subjecting them to exhaustion.

The attacks can begin as early as February and continue all summer, depending on how many broods the nesting birds raise in one season.

In my case, it was a male robin that began at the windows on the south and the east sides of the house, beginning in April and continuing until midsummer.

He would jump as high as three feet to peck at the windows on the front door. Twelve windows with brick ledges were covered with bird droppings – not easily cleaned – each day.

I used decals, closing shades and a fake owl – nothing worked.

Pounding on a window only drove the robin to a different window. Even though I was not ready to resort to violence, I would like to remind those so inclined that it is against the law to harm songbirds in Ohio.

I was overjoyed to hear one way to prevent birds from pecking windows is to not wash them during this time. That will be my first approach during this spring season.

Anything that interferes with the reflective quality of windows helps to alleviate the problem of pecking.

Some suggestions from Cornell University to help break up external reflections include spraying windows, perhaps with artificial snow, and soaping window exteriors.

Hanging lightweight objects that move in the breeze, such as plastic strips, discarded CDs or aluminum pie plates in front of windows may work.

Also, random patterns of paper or tape strips attached to the windows may deter birds.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology used crop netting three inches in front of the outside of a large window to keep the birds away. The smaller netting, 5/8 inches in diameter, will keep even the tiniest birds from becoming entangled.

Another strategy is to make ledges as uncomfortable as possible for the birds to use as perches. One possibility is to make 60-degree surfaces out of metal or wood to place on the ledges.

Action must be taken as soon as possible when the birds’ pecking is noticed. I now have lots of options for this spring.

For tips and things you can do to protect birds, visit

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