Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cardinal Attacking Window

For the last several days, a male cardinal has been attacking our kitchen window. The first time he did this, we thought it was an accident. Oh, that poor bird just flew into our window. Then he picked himself up and did it again. "Wow", we said, "You don't see that every day." Then we hypothesized that the bird saw one of Molly's flowers inside the house and was for some reason trying to get at it. Jake, thought that the bird was trying to get in and do the Chicken Dance with us since we do that on a regular basis.

At little research on the net led us to the real answer. If we could witness the scene from the bird's point of view, the real cause of the bird's behavior would be clear. We would see what the bird sees: its reflection in the windowpane.

Apparently, Cardinals are very territorial. When a bird decides on a nest site, the surrounding area becomes its territory and it aggressively protects its territory by driving other birds away. Northern Mockingbirds sometimes display similar behavior when they are protecting a food source, such as a shrub full of berries.

Most birds have a strong sense of territory, especially during the breeding season. It is nature's way of minimizing competition for food and nest sites. The singing of adult male birds is a familiar manifestation of nesting territoriality in birds. A male's characteristic song, usually given from several preferred perches in its territory, says, in effect, "This is where my mate and I plan to nest; others of my species respect my boundaries and stay out."

We aren't sure how long the mating season lasts, but we hope Mr. Cardinal stops crashing into our window. It's kind of scary in an Alfred Hitchcock sort of way.

1 comment:

FrusenGlädjé said...

When I was a child there was a cardinal that would wake me up every morning by flying into my window over and over... for hours at a time. They're evidently not very bright.