Our Numerous Encounters With a Rather Peculiar Male Cardinal

I must preface this post by saying, I’m not sure if I was attracting a number of male cardinals, but never more than one at any given time, or the same crazy cardinal every time. If the former is true and you’d like to attract male cardinals, then you might try my suggestion mentioned in this post. If the latter is true, then hopefully crazy male cardinals are a common sighting. :)

From our front porch, or as we looked out our kitchen window, we saw a male cardinal perched on our car door ledge, facing the car door window. Both of our vehicles have tinted windows which makes it easy to see your reflection. The bird walked back and forth on the door ledge while staring at his reflection in the window. He intermittently fluttered up a couple inches and then back down onto the ledge.

Then, he became fixated on the door mirror. He would flutter back and forth between the door ledge and the top of the mirror, but mostly he was content to position himself directly in front of the mirror. He would then watch his reflection and “attack” it. This went on for months.


We finally figured out what he was probably doing. He was a male cardinal, which meant our driveway was his turf. It was his lookout station for all the lady cardinals searching for a handsome mate. Then, some idiot (his reflection) thought he could share the turf with him (the real cardinal). His constant pecking attacks at the mirror were his way of trying to fend off his competition. He just didn’t expect his opponent to stick around so long. No matter how many times he attacked the intruder, the resilient bird just wouldn’t leave!

It got to the point that we started parking our cars about 200 feet away from our house, up by the barn, just to keep the cardinal off the cars!!

It wasn’t the bird on the cars that bothered us. We actually found him quite entertaining. It was … what he left behind from his behind. :)

Occasionally, we’d go ahead and leave one of the cars down by the house. In those instances, we handled the situation of the crazy cardinal and his pooh by either turning the mirrors so they faced outward (less easy for the cardinal to see himself), or we tied a plastic grocery bag around each mirror. Is this crazy, or what!?

I got to thinkin’. Maybe propping up a mirror near a tree trunk, birdbath, or a stand of sorts would be a clever way to attract male cardinals. I’ll have to have a part two to this to let you know if that works.

Has anyone else observed such behavior by a bird intrigued with its reflection?

This was shared on the following blog hops or link-ups:
‘Encourage One Another’ Wednesday Link-Up
From the Farm Blog Hop
Homestead Barn Hop
Simple Lives Thursday
Simple Living Wednesday Link Up

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11 comments to Our Numerous Encounters With a Rather Peculiar Male Cardinal

  • A

    Yes, once there was one who perched in the evergreen outside my bedroom window and fought his reflection in the window for months.

  • Tess

    Use to have a male cardinal that would hit the house windows… we assumed he was attacking the “other” male! Then the boss had a bus with dark windows… at a certain time of day, when reflections were great, he went to town!!! Thankful the glass was “protective”!

    • Holly

      Yeah. Maybe that is what they’re thinking – another male is invading their turf. At least that’s how we humans interpret their bird behavior.

  • kat

    I have also had numerous (male and female) cardinals do this to my house windows. I have also had robins sit on the spare tire on my 5th wheel camper and “attack” the windows on the rear of the camper. They are very persistent.

    • Holly

      I was curious as to whether this was just a male dispute over turf, or if females also participate in this behavior. Funny.

      I also wasn’t aware that robins did something similar.

  • Susan in Amado, AZ

    We have one right now doing the same thing for the past 6 moths. We call him Carl the Cardinal and his wife is Claudia Cardinale (think movie star) I am so tired of his ‘doo’ on the mirrors but the kids love him! He also wakes my boys up in the am banging on their window. My 13 yr old moved his bed due to the annoyance, very funny! Claudia got caught in our portable chicken run and we had quite the time extracting her…ah, life on the farm…

    • Holly

      Wow. Carl and Claudia are faithful in their appearances. 6 MONTHS of this behavior is dedication. Our cardinal was also a regular for months, just not sure how many.

      I love that a cardinal caused your son to rearrange his bedroom furniture. LOL.

  • kat

    also, the hummingbirds have been “sizing-up” themselves at my picture window. They come up to the window and hover up and down the window a few times and then fly-off. It’s getting to be that time of the year here in eastern Iowa that the hummingbirds begin to get very possessive of the feeders all the way around the house. I have 9 feeders, and the hummers circle the house trying to keep the other hummingbirds off the feeders. You can also see the hummingbirds, out the corner of your eye, up in the branches of the trees. If another hummer gets near, they start their aerobatics and high-pitches squeals to run the intruders-off.

  • connie Christenson

    4/17/15 I am so glad I saw all your posts. I have one or more Robins (little bird) attacking my fifthwheel windows and thought it was the cats in the window but then figured out it was the mirror like windows. Anything you can do? My cats have torn my window screens trying to get to the birds. Looking for help!

    • Holly

      I feel bad that I don’t have a solution. My only ideas are goofy solutions:

      - Don’t clean your windows. Clean windows = reflective windows. How often does someone give you permission to have dirty windows. :D
      - Get rid of the cat. Oops! Did I say that out loud? ;) I’m a dog person.
      - Invite the birds inside your house.

      Yeah … no real good solutions for that problem. I’m sure they’re out there, just not in my head.

      Wait! Maybe you could hang a plant outside near that window to block the reflection. If you don’t have a way to hang a plant hook, you could use a shepherd’s hook. Whew … I’m not worthless, after all.

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