Birds and Windows Reprise


(This column was first published in the August 18, 2003 issue of The Buffalo News.)


In a July column on birds attacking or flying into windows I invited readers' suggestions and I have been overwhelmed by the volume of response and I must add, most delighted. Dozens of you have written, e-mailed or called since I posted that invitation. It seems to have opened the floodgates as many of the communications took us in different directions from the original request. As in the past, I have responded privately to each inquiry, but in this column I will share as many of those interesting messages with you as space permits.


Unfortunately, most of the responses followed the pattern of Suzanne Barber's call for help with her window-attacking cardinal. "I have tried everything," she says. "I have hung everything you can imagine out there [imitation] cats, snakes, owls and nothing helps. I haven't tied my live cat out there yet, but this cardinal has about driven me crazy. It is a bold bird.


And she adds in frustration: "I am thinking of trying to hit it with a broom. I hate to do this as I am a bird lover. I have two canaries that brighten each day for us. If you get any advice, would you please forward it to me as I am getting desperate."


Ms. Barber's experience is unlike that of Brian Griep, one of several out-of-state respondents and one of those who offered what works for them: "I live in North Carolina where the cardinal is the state bird, but this one was very annoying being at my office window every day. I put up newspapers and tried several other things that are too stupid to mention, but the plastic owls did the trick. You may need a couple of them."


Several other solutions were offered. Jim and Karen Landau string vertical monofilament lines with gull feathers attached in front of the window being attacked, the feathers evidently distracting the attention of these aggressive birds. (Fluttering feathers may also suggest a recent hawk attack.)


Marilyn Peccoraro O'Connell, owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Blasdell, provided a number of suggestions. (I consider Marilyn's always forthcoming advice the best available for this kind of inquiry as she enjoys close personal contacts with many birders whose experiences she carefully absorbs.) Motion is important, she tells me. Brightly colored flags or ribbon streamers that flutter in the wind have been successful. She also agrees with the Landaus' suggestion about stringed gull feathers and adds that dying them bright colors might work even better. These kinds of things - spirals called wind divas among them - are marketed, but not by her: she considers their prices excessive.


For the other problem birds trying to fly through windows Marilyn suggests purchasing the kind of mist net sold by golf pros as a guard against golf balls hitting the windows of houses located near fairways. They also turn away birds and, equally important, their thin filaments are virtually invisible to us.


My favorite of all the responses is this one from Mrs. S. Richter: "We haven't any solution to offer but want to share our story with you. We have had an experience with a frustrated bird here in Lockport. What appeared to be a sapsucker began attacking our front window for three or four days. After fluttering against the window for a few minutes, he would sit in a nearby shrub and, turning his back to the window, would flash his rump to his 'rival.' The activity amused us for several days before stopping without intervention."


It seems even the birds indulge in mooning.-- Gerry Rising