Curious Why Birds Keep Flying Into Windows

TEWKSBURY (CBS) — After our long, tough winter, robins are a reassuring sign of spring. But they’re also raising a question.

Marie from Tewksbury Declared her Curiosity asking, “What causes a robin to fly into my windows for weeks every spring?”

Turns out it’s because at this time of year birds’ thoughts turn to love and they try to protect their space.

WBZ’s Todd Gutner reports.

Chris Leahy of Mass Audubon explains male birds become territorial, and by singing they advertise they want to mate. But that singing also tells other birds to stay out of his space, said Leahy.

When they see themselves in a window something happens. “They don’t perceive that this is a reflection. They think it’s a rival, and they will attack this reflection,” said Leahy.

It should end in a few weeks when breeding season is over, but it will start up again in late summer when the second breeding season begins.

Experts say birds probably won’t hurt themselves doing this.

More from Declare Your Curiosity
  • Ann

    i seen birds see themselves hit the window at work and die.
    if they got a nest in the bush or tree if there is a window near by they see themselves they think its a bird trying to kill there babys,

  • ahmed

    thank you it very important infromation
    Very well written article good post fantastic …
    قعدة نت – عيون مصرية

  • KF4766

    They’re twitterpated! :-)

  • marie

    Ann, I think you make good point there. I remembered afterword that there is now a nest about 5ft away under the adjacent deck. And today he was just sitting outside the window all puffed up, watching the woods. So I think the windows are safe for now. LOL!

  • Joan

    Sometimes hanging a piece of light colored cloth – a towel for example – over the inside of the window works. It looks odd but lessens the contrast in the reflection. The birds don’t react to that image and stop dive bombing the window.

  • marie

    Hi Joan, I actually pulled my cream colored shades down last year on the bottom windows, then he just started flying into the transoms instead! He was determined to “do his dance” I guess

  • Lizzy

    They see their reflection, and thinking it is another bird trying to get to their woman, it is mating season and no way another male robins going to go after his mate. This happens every year and they tend to begin around 6 am, bam, bam, I see feather marks on every window, and yes there are multiple older nests around too. Welcome Spring, but it is sad when one hits to hard and kills itself.

  • Kathy

    My husband and I could not believe how timely and relevant his report was to us! All during the the early news casts a robin continuously flew at our windows and door and nothing like it had happened in our long residence here in Sandwich. We were baffled and concerned that the bird was ill or injured. Thanks to Marie for asking and to Todd for the good information. The bird continues, even now, to hit the windows but we have stopped worrying about him.
    Thanks WBZ


    They’re trying to get shelter from the lousy New England Spring.

  • John Sharp

    You can get decals to stick on the window, some shaped like falcons, predator birds that will prevent the songbirds from flying at the window like that. They are probably available at a paper goods store, or, google to the rescue, here is one place:

  • Patricia Farinelli

    Robins are pecking and fluttering around our windows here in Attleboro.Have been since last week.They are leaving messes on our windowsills outside and we have saliva and scratches on windows.Keeping shades down but we think they can still see themselves.We heard from your program it should be over soon. We love the birds and just hope they arent hurting themselves..Thank you for letting us know we are not alone.

  • DrStrangelove

    I never clean the windows. I have found that prevents any such bird behavior. It works well deterring peeping toms, too. Windex is the enemy.

  • betty

    This why I have cats, bird problems solved.

  • marie

    Patricia, I think what you believe is saliva is actually oil from the bird’s feathers. It look like they are crashing their heads into the window, when, in fact, they are chest bumping them. So the oil comes off on the glass. I’ve had that same problem for two years. So I wait until May to clean the windows. :-)

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