I frequently get asked what to do about woodpeckers pecking on houses, and how to keep birds from fighting their reflections in windows (short answer: nothing easy). This email showed up on Birdchat and is just a reminder that if a bird is giving you a minor irritation, it really could be a lot worse:
Subject: pileated attacks outside rear view mirrors
Just recently a reader of my bird column told me about a pileated
woodpecker that has been attacking his reflection in the outside rear
view mirrors of cars parked in the driveways of a group of houses in
a forested area near Syracuse, NY.
When this bird hits these adjustable mirrors the thin glass breaks.
So far this spring 18 mirrors have had to be replaced. Last year just
under 30 mirrors were destroyed and 2 garage and barn windows have
been broken. The bird also lit on the cab roof of a new red pick-up
and pounded a dent in that roof. The local garage that replaces
automobile windows and glass has done most of the repair.
Question: While many songbirds attack their reflection in windows in
homes and or in car rear view mirrors, those birds are not able to
hit the glass with enough force to break it. Over the 50 years I
have been writing this column, I have had many reports of birds
attacking their reflections in windows, mirrors, hubcaps, but never
before has it involved a pileated woodpecker.
Do any readers of BIRDCHAT know of other pileated woodpeckers that
have done this or is this a unique occurrence? I suspect it is one
particular woodpecker , but how did he happen to spot his image in a
car, rear view mirror? These birds generally are wary and only
sometimes seen close to our homes so it seems unlikely that he would
ever be around an automobile in the first place.
Benjamin P. Burtt
> Professor of Chemistry Emeritus