Garden Visitor of the Day: Kissing Cardinals

These are two videos I’ve collected over the past couple weeks from the trail cam of our resident cardinals. First enjoy the videos and then I’ll tell you about the downside of encouraging birds in your yard.

Kissing” cardinals…the male shares a morsel from under the feeder with his mate

This cardinal couple (and as far as I can tell, it is the same one) has made itself at home in our yard from the spring migration through the fall migration for each of the past 3 years. They like our yard so much that they are willing to take on any cardinal they see to ensure that they don’t lose it as their territory.

There are no other cardinals in our yard regularly, but there are a whole lot of windows. You can see where I am going with this, I’m sure. For the past 3 years, the female cardinal has spent most of her day flying at her own reflection in our windows. She starts around sunrise (hello, 5 am!), takes a break mid-morning, comes back in the afternoon, takes another break later in the afternoon, comes back in the early evening, and then breaks again once the sun goes down and her reflection is gone. She primarily attacks three windows: the master bedroom en suite, the window for a storage room directly under the master bedroom on the east side of the house, and the guest bathroom on the south side of the house.

We have tried:

  • Closing the blinds/drapes (completely ineffective)
  • Hanging wind chimes and garden decorations that move in the wind in front of the windows (ineffective)
  • Writing on the window with a highligher (ineffective)
  • Taping bird silhouettes on the window (ineffective)
  • Covering the outside of the window with bird netting (ineffective)
  • Taping cardboard over the window (effective, but too ugly for the humans to accept)
  • Taping strips of mylar over the window (same, plus it could not survive the storms we get here in the Midwest)
  • Scaring the bird by running up to the window, banging on it, yelling, etc. (effective, but only for an hour or so)

Finally, we bought this little guy:

He is a lifesaver. I wired him into the cherry tree right outside our en suite window a month and a half ago and the cardinal now stays away. The instructions said to move him periodically, because the bird might realize that the owl isn’t moving and get suspicious. I dutifully moved our new little owl friend up into another tree about 7 feet away from the window after a week to give the illusion of flight.

The cardinal came back that very day. Apparently, an owl two feet away from her window is too scary, but 7 is no big deal.

Now Owly (Yes, we’ve named him, and yes, we are very creative) is back in the cherry tree just outside of the window and has been for 5 weeks. Mama cardinal still has not caught on that he is always there. Even if she comes back tomorrow, he will have been more than worth the $18 we spent on him at our local Ace Hardware for the extra hours of sleep we’ve gotten this spring.

And if he stops working, I’ve decided that I am raiding our Halloween display supplies and putting this guy up in our bathroom window. I’m sure I’ll have a heart attack every time I walk into the bathroom and see him there, but it will be worth it.

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