May 25, 1997

On Reflection, Sparrow Is Own Worst Enemy

Joan Carson Scripps-Mcclatchy Western Service
 

The bird is a song sparrow, an obnoxious one. Song sparrows have nested in their corner of the yard forever. They designated it as theirs. I had nothing to say about it and have been delighted to have them nesting in the private bush by the pond.

I can only guess that the couple now occupying that spot are new to the neighborhood. Who knows what happened to the old neighbors? What we do know is that they never bashed our windows.

Not only is the male bird pinging off the kitchen windows all day long, there are times when his mate sits on a branch and encourages him. You can almost hear her. “Give him a good one, Harry. Get him out of our territory!”

That is what our bothersome song sparrow is doing. He is trying to chase another song sparrow out of his territory. The only problem is, he’s trying to chase himself away. He is seeing his reflection in the windows and it’s driving him crazy with anger and frustration.

At first, it was confined to the windows above the kitchen sink. His manners were terrible. After all, this is where two feeders hang. It’s not in the best of taste to declare the feeders part of your territory. It’s been most upsetting for the chickadees and nuthatches.

So, I moved some feeders to the opposite side of the house. Three days later, there was that sparrow. This time he was after the windows in the living room. They aren’t anywhere near his territory - according to my boundary calculations.

Like people, some birds are more aggressive than others. Perhaps this is a young bird and this is his first attempt at protecting nesting territory. He seems to want all other song sparrows out of the yard completely.

The same day this bird began bouncing off our windows, the phone rang with reports of a chickadee that was going from window to window in one house. The person calling wondered if perhaps it had a crush on her or, worse yet, a grudge against her. It seemed to be going from window to window as she went from room to room.

Another caller was concerned because a robin (the worst offender in these type of incidents) was flying at her windows.

When a robin decides to chase himself out of your yard, it can get pretty unpleasant. It is a large songbird, and one with a temper. A light tap or a bit of fluttering against the window isn’t a robin’s style.

They fly at the window with enough force to knock themselves silly. They’ll do it all day long, over and over.

Homeowners get a little frantic, not only over the mess the bird is making on the window, but some gentle souls begin to feel pain for the bird’s bruises.

What can you do?

You can wait it out and hope the bird will soon be involved in nesting duties. You can cover the window (on the outside). You can hang ribbons, strings, wind socks or other material in front of the window and try to break up the reflection. You can paste the silhouette of a diving hawk in an upper corner of the window. You can try all of these - and one of them may work.

Or, you can tell yourself this will only last a short time and things will soon return to normal.


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