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Monday, 09 June 2014


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I have seen this behavior, before and have a video of a Dark-eyed Junco doing the same thing. It probably wasn't a courtship, but rather a territorial spat with the virtual male.


Males and females generally have different plumage and that is not courting behavior. Looks like he is "fighting" off competition.

And thus the term "bird brain".
You might consider folding the mirrors in (if possible) or covering them with a plastic bag. I had a bird ruin a side view mirror by scratching it up when it was performing its shenanigans. Those mirrors are expensive.

It looks to be a female House Finch, protecting the territory around it's nest.

I like to think people are more sophisticated than this bird, but considering how obsessed we are with images of ourselves, both real and imaginary, on TV screens, magazine covers, in art, etc., maybe not too much more.

Fun pictures, Jim, and you're such romantic! But my guess is that you have less a Romeo than an avian Tybalt, a testosterone-soaked song sparrow hell-bent on killing all other males in his territory lest they have a dalliance with his true love. Yes, love is in the air, but with it come all the nasty side effects.

A sparrow certainly, likely a Savannah. And likely not courting his reflection, but trying to drive off the competition. (Birds are, as a rule, a pretty beligerent bunch when spring is in the air.)

Your bird is a Song Sparrow. The behavior you witnessed is actually fairly common, but it's almost certainly a territorial dispute between the male and an imagined would-be interloper. I've seen this behavior many, many times, involving species that are sexually dimorphic (i.e., the males and females have very different plumages). And it's always a male attacking a (presumed) competing male. In our sparrows, the Song Sparrow included, both sexes wear the same plumage, so your courting interpretation is understandable. Still, an nice story in 6 frames!


Get a cat.

I, too, believe you're observing territorial defensive aggression, Jim.

I've not seen this, but I witnessed another territorial matter.

We had had several inches of snow in March, which is most unusual. It lay on the ground for weeks.The birds were desperate for food, and I made sure to keep the bird table stocked up.

Now, robins are very territorial. Those christmas cards of several robins on a snowy branch are fantasy; they would fight. This day, there were three robins in my garden at once. It was a tense moment. I held my breath. They looked at each other. They didn't fight.

When the weather improved and food became more available I expect the truce was cancelled.

Yes, as per comments above, this isn't love I am afraid, it's a barroom brawl. As far as this bird is concerned there is a rival on the block who is incredibly persistent.

If it had a camera, it would only shoot selfies.

Just adding to the chorus we have a Pileated Woodpecker that does the same thing to my GMC van mirrors...

Song Sparrow (I looked again). Song Sparrow, with 24 valid sub-species, is a "cryptic" species; hard to sort out who is who. 8-)

"Get a cat" . . . ACK!

Some years ago, several cars outside my office were "picked on" by a particularly aggressive and territorial robin. We all wondered when this manic bird had time to eat, and how could one bird emit such copious amounts of crap. This happened each spring for a few years, and seemed to always be just one bird.

Yesterday I went outside to discover both our cars' windows covered in sparrow poop front and back and on both sides plus mirrors. I've already got several of the house windows covered with sheets of newspaper. The cars are now under tarps.

In 32 years living here (Canadian Maritimes), this is the worst sparrow attack. I'm trying to avoid dark thoughts involving the air rifle that's in the cellar. I applaud Jim Hughes for picking up his camera instead.

I'm just wondering when the forsythia actually blooms where you live. For your sake, I hope that early spring arrived some time ago in Maine and not this week.

"Get a cat."

Or a garage. ;-)

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Featherest of Them All?”

Great story. Most artists are sensitive to all kinds of nature's manifestations.
Unfortunately, there is a dramatic side to birds' attempting to fly through the looking glass: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27426866

Google "mirror test."

Okay, speaking of birds, here's something about vultures. It is sort of a counterpart to Jim's story. http://goo.gl/1OQUuW

I love that lens. I use it for most of the film I shoot these days. And in your hands, it's great for birds too.

The sparrow is being aggressive against a perceived foe. This can end badly. I observed this happen to a vehicle of mine one morning and by the afternoon the bird had killed itself by beating its head against the mirror. I know this is too late but, next time, cover the mirror as soon as possible to avoid injury to the bird.

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