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Why is a blue tit tapping on our window?

Sent in by Nicholas Smith, near Godalming in Surrey

This is a very topical enquiry; one we receive frequently at this time of year. Although it can seem, from inside the house, that the blue tit is trying to get in, it is, in fact, attacking its own reflection.

This is territorial behaviour and fairly common at the moment as birds claim, and then defend, their breeding territory. This blue tit has chosen its nest site nearby. Seeing its reflection in the window it thinks that another bird is intruding and tries to drive it away by pecking at it. Many birds do this and they will also attack other reflective objects such as car wing mirrors and hub caps. Two years ago, a pied wagtail spend a couple of weeks attacking the sun roof on my car. I suppose that every time I drove away, it thought it had succeeded in its mission.

These activities are difficult to stop. Placing cling film or non-reflective cellophane on the outside of the glass may work but often the bird will move to another window and resume its attack. Soon though, it will be diverted by its busy schedule of nest-building and rearing its young.

Sadly, windows can cause the deaths of many birds. On brighter days, glass reflects the sky or surrounding greenery and birds fly straight at them. They do not realise that it is a solid surface and although some recover, after a short rest, many break their necks and die. A simple solution is to place a few stickers on the glass - bird shapes, especially of a hawk, work well, but it is important to place them on the outer surface for them to be effective.

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