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Robin Attacks

robin attacks

Robin attacks man’s house. It’s a first for me, but apparently not uncommon.

So, the other day I am doing some work in my home office. I noticed a small, banging or shuffling sound in the background. The noise was irregular but pretty constant. After more than an hour of hearing the noise, I decided to track it down.

Our house is next to a park, with lots of squirrels and occasionally rabbits and dear. Quite often these animals will “play” near the house, so these kinds of noises are not unusual. But repeating for more than an hour is.

A quick trip around the inside of the house tracked the noise down to the dining room. Looking out the window I could see a robin attacking my dining room window. Over, and over, and over. The robin would sit on the fence rail (above, left) then fly suddenly to attack the window with its beak, and then settle on the window sill (above, right) for a little while. Then, repeat and repeat…

Robin attacks window – it’s about instinct

According to a web search: “When American Robins start feeling territorial each year, they do their best to keep other adults of the same sex outside of their territorial boundaries. When a territorial robin notices its reflection in a window or mirror within its territory, it gets agitated, raises the feathers on its head, and assumes a dominant posture. Normally that is enough to make any other robins leave the territory immediately. But instead of flying away, the reflected robin seems to get equally agitated, raises its head feathers, and gets in an equally dominant posture. The first time this happens, the real robin often just leaves. If it’s a male, he often goes to his favorite song perch and starts singing. When he doesn’t hear a responding song, he’s more certain that this is really his own territory. If it’s a female, she goes back to her daily activities and stays on the lookout for other females.

If the robin sees that reflection again, it gets more and more agitated — but so does the reflection! Finally, the robin flies in to chase the other robin away. But the reflection flies in exactly the same way, and the robin hits the glass. And the reflected robin STILL doesn’t leave! No matter how aggressive the real robin gets, and no matter how hard it fights, the reflection matches it. The real robin becomes more and more determined to drive that upstart away!”

This is exactly what has been happening at my now, and is now in its third day, for hours at a time. There is probably a nest in the lilac bush beside my house.

Alberta Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Is the robin attack a sign of insanity? No. That would require some sort of reasoning rather than just instinct. Hopefully in another month the eggs will finish incubation and the the young will learn to fly, and daddy robin will chill out.

In the meantime, I took pity on the robin, and attached a piece of newspaper to outside of the window with masking tape. No more reflection, no more attacks. Although the robin still stares at the newspaper waiting for his enemy to return.

Now if I could only get the neighborhood woodpecker to stop hammering on my metal chimney.

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