Deterring a female cardinal

Of the avian persuasion, obviously.

I’ve got a female cardinal who sits in the crape myrtle outside one of my living room windows and pecks at the window. Not sure what she’s seeing in the reflection – herself, I assume – but this has been going on for months.

It doesn’t bother me that much, but it drives the cats batty and they knock over all kinds of shit trying to get at her.

I tried the outline of a hawk taped to the window, no good – might an owl outline work? or owl eyes? or a stuffed owl? or something else altogether?


I had a male cardinal enamored with his reflection in my car rearview mirror once, but he moved on after a while.

If she is returning to the same square foot or so sized area, how about taping a piece of paper to the outside of the window for a while. I’d expect the lack of being able to see her reflection (who she probably sees as a rival in her nesting territory) for a while will allow her to forget the interloper until she gets distracted with raising her brood.

For a moment I thought you had the Catholic church camped outside your window

Electric windows should do the trick.

Peck… ZAP!!!

Problem solved.

I keep recommending this bird-scaring spider to people who complain about woodpeckers, but no one I know has bought one yet and can tell me funny stories about scared birds.

Do you have any windchimes or whirlygig-type things near the window?

How about the solar-powered bird repeller?

Or for low-tech, the giant plastic snake (bonus value for scaring the crap out of burglars).

Dunno about birds, but the same (or very similar) sound-activated spider we got for Halloween did a nice job of gaslighting our spaniel.

a balloon on a few inches of string taped to window or tied to the crape myrtle.

**Ca3799 **is close to the simplest answer.

Birds typically do this as a defense of territory; they see their reflection, and try to drive it away. The action is also self reinforcing: every time the bird flies past the window, there is that darned competitor again, so the bird learns to check the location of the window ever more frequently.

Removing the reflection for a period of time helps to break this cycle. Without reinforcement for a week or so, the behavior often disappears entirely. A sheet of paper taped to the outside of the window will work, but it probably won’t cover the whole window, and it may be hard to keep in place if wind or rain occur.

We recommend taking some dry laundry powder and mixing it with a small amount of water, which in the right proportions will produce a thick, white “paint”. (Show you how ancient I am, back in my day we used this to write FOR SALE on car windows and such.) Wipe this on the outside of the window and the reflection disappears. Leave it on for a week or so until the bird forgets about that particular intruder to its territory. Then hose it off and you get a clean window.

If it’s a large window, usually just “painting” the lowest 8 or 10 inches will suffice, since the bird will land on the sill to do battle – at which point, the enemy disappears!

CannyDan, I think I’ll start with your solution as the easiest. And cheapest. And best suited to the site – the tree is right up against the house there, so the bird is actually perching in the tree to check on the intruder.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

twickster, we’ve recommended this to literally hundreds of people over the past few decades, and it is indeed the simplest, cheapest, and most effective method. Good luck!

There’s a reason why being called a bird brain isn’t a complement. Birds have to be able to fly. They can’t be weighted down by all those neurons.

As for your cats: Remember, in the wild, they don’t have to be all that much smarter than their prey. And, domesticated, they need even fewer neurons to track down that food dish. They’re pretty hopeless too.

Unless you can cover the window from the outside, there’s not much you can do to dissuade her. She probably is pecking at her reflection, and she’s not going to stop until that reflection finds another territory. If she sits on the window sill on a particular spot, you can probably cover that up with a piece of cardboard.