Birds in Mirrors Are Closer Than They Appear

Pigeon wearing traffic safety vest

By Health and Safety Reporter Marco Greyback

A warning for all birds that this time of year there is usually a rise in bird injuries due to collisions with mirrors and windows.

This is particularly common with male cardinals who frequently mistake their own reflections for rival birds. In springtime, when male birds are staking claim to their territory, even the appearance of their own mirror images can feel like a threat.

Tony Redplume knows this only too well. He’s nursing a sore beak after a recent encounter with a car mirror. “I was thinking, who’s this tough guy comin’ at me?” he recounted. “Before I knew it, I was smashing headfirst into my own reflection.”

Tony says he thought it was strange at first that the bird wasn’t saying anything back to him. “A Brooklyn cardinal that doesn’t talk back?” he says, “I shoulda known.”

Cardinal looking aggressively at its own image in a car mirror

Illustration: © Fiona Carswell, 2021.