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Anna, Bird Expert, Biologist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 11513
Experience:  Have owned and/or raised parakeets, finches, cockatiels, and poultry over a period of thirty years.
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We have had a female cardinal attack our window fairly consistently

Resolved Question:

We have had a female cardinal attack our window fairly consistently throughout
each day. She has been doing this for three years with occasional weeks or months
off. A male cardinal is very solicitious of her and we see him feed her while she
continues her guard duty.

We have pulled the shade but that does not deter her. We have not yet put up
the silhouette of a hawk - I don't want to scare any birds away since we see some
lovely, non-attacking birds in the same bush.

We have seen males attack their reflections over the years but not a female; since
the female has taken up this hobby, we have not seen a male act aggressively toward
its reflection. What is going on in that female cardinal mind?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Anna replied 6 years ago.

This behavior is actually common in both male and female cardinals. If you'd like to see how common, run a search on YouTube for cardinals attacking windows. The birds see their own reflections, along with reflections of trees and shrubs and sky, and they think others of their own species have invaded their territory. Females do defend their territory, and it's not unheard of for them to fight over males, either. So that's probably what is going on in her mind.

As for stopping the behavior, that could be a problem. Putting anything on the inside of the window only makes the reflections on the outside more clear, so the shade isn't going to help. Many people find the raptor decals and other decals don't help either. The purpose of the decals is to keep birds from flying into the window by mistake. The cardinal isn't flying into the window; she is attacking a reflection of herself. She isn't going to care of there is a decal as long as that other female (in her mind) is still in her territory. Some people have resorted to covering the entire outside of the window, but that's too drastic for most people. You can also buy anti-glare coverings that you'll be able to see through, but will stop the reflections. Check with the places that sell window treatments for cars. If the cardinal isn't driving you crazy, let her attack. While once in awhile a bird will injure its beak doing this, that's unusual, and no harm is really being done to the bird when she does this. You'll have to make a decision about what to do based on your own tolerance for the behavior.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you! I had hoped that this was a normal behavior and the bird was not being

harmed. She really is a beauty!


Could this be the same female year after year? Do cardinals mate for life?

Expert:  Anna replied 6 years ago.
I love cardinals, too. I guess we'd have to call her behavior normal, though it may not seem that way.

There's a good chance it's the same cardinal. They do mate for life, but not always. Some will pair up for a year, but then find a new mate. Many of them, however, do stick with the same mate year after year. Here's a good site where you can read more about cardinals:

There's no need to click on accept again. Thank you for accepting above. Enjoy watching your cardinals!