A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

Bluebirds Pecking at Mirrors

Going out to see our horses the other day, we discovered a pair of bluebirds doing battle with the large outdoor arena mirror.

The usual explanation for this behavior is that the birds see their reflections, assume that the reflections are interloper birds, and spend a lot of time trying to chase the reflections away.  You can prevent the birds from stressing (or injuring) themselves by hanging something over the reflective surface.

This sounds like a pretty good explanation, but perhaps we should hesitate a bit before we decide what a bird is thinking.  After all, it wouldn’t be too tough to find some human behaviors that defy easy explanation.  Consider a behavior such as shouting at a television during football games.  Surely the human knows that no one inside the television is hearing their shouts, but still the shouting persists.  Is it too much of a stretch, then, to think that the birds may know it’s a reflection, but still persist in pecking?

It might be fun to come up with alternate explanations for why birds might peck at their reflections in mirrors and windows.  If you have any good ideas, let us know in the comments!

6 Responses to “Bluebirds Pecking at Mirrors”

  1. WOW!!! Superb photographs very beautiful. Bought a bigggggg smile on my grumpy face.


  2. Hello Delson! Thank you so much! We’ve justvisited your blog, by the way, and LOVE the photos! We’re adding you to our Awesome Nature Blogs blogroll. Great picture of you, by the way, as well =)

  3. Thanks for your answers….we have a few bluebirds around and they are loving my daughters window…..she is 3 and getting a little scared of it so I will try and hang something outside of it….today she is starting to like it but I am afraid they might get hurt. Enjoyed the pics…I should take some too! Denise

  4. Hello Denise,

    It can be a little scary — especially when they start hitting really hard. We have a sparrow that is attacking one of our windows now. Hanging some feathers on fishing line seems to be helping, and some people recommend those window-stickers (but putting them on the outside of the window). And as you noted, it’s a great opportunity to get some close-up photos!

    Thanks for writing in!

  5. We have birds constantly running into the sliding glass windows at our back door. We purchased a window film (cling) to put ont he door. It is a frosted white so we can still see out, but there is no more reflection. This does not stop the birds from crashing into the windows. It is still happening, so if anyone finds something that works, please let me know. I want to stop having injured birds.

  6. Hello Nicole,

    It’s so heartbreaking when birds die that way. We wrote an article about the whole affair at our other site here. What seems to have worked for us is to string a line of fishing line across the window — we did a V shape with the point meeting at the bottom of our picture window — on the outside of the house. On the line, we tied feathers — large ones from wild turkeys. Probably about eight inches apart. So far, we haven’t had any hits (about two months now), and though we thought that people would think it looked weird, we actually get compliments on it, since the feathers are quite beautiful in the sun. We hope this helps!

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