Robins and Windows

Help! A robin is hitting my window!
Every year people write to Journey North asking for help because a robin is repeatedly flying and crashing into their closed windows, patio doors, or car mirrors. Here's why it happens and what you can do:

Why does this happen?
When a robin notices its reflection in a window or mirror within its territory, it gets agitated, raises the feathers on its head, and assumes a dominant posture. Normally that is enough to make other robins leave immediately. But, the robin in the reflection, appears to be in a dominant posture, agitated, and unwilling to leave.

Often, the robin just leaves rather than pursue the reflection. A male may simply go to his favorite song perch and start singing. When he doesn't hear a responding song, he's more certain that his territory is safe. A female often goes back to her daily activities and stays alert for other females.

However, some robins become increasingly agitated — and then so do their reflections! In a vicious cycle, the robin repeatedly flies in to chase away the perceived rival and hits the glass. Still the reflected robin remains, and the territorial bird becomes more and more determined to drive away the upstart.

During the nesting season, a robin's territorial urge is more powerful than the urge to eat or sleep. By defending a territory a robin ensures there will be enough food for its young.

What can I do?
The only way to prevent this behavior is to make sure the robin does not see its reflection. The simplest way, if it's a small window or mirror, is to tape some paper or cardboard over the outside of the window. Usually the paper needs to be up for three or four days until the robin gets busy with nesting duties and babies and forgets about its window rival. If it's a big patio window, it's harder to cover the whole thing. One technique that sometimes works is to paper over the area where the robin has been actually hitting. Press'n Seal Wrap is a quick and easy way to prevent robins from seeing their reflections. It's simple to adhere to the surface of windows or mirrors and simple to remove, too.

Robins Hitting Windows
Michael Ehret
Robins Hitting Windows