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Nesting season: How to co-exist with protective birds

Here's why some birds may be acting hostile.
Robins and crows are some of the bird species that can display particularly defensive behaviour during nesting season.

Nesting season is currently in full swing for many bird species, such as crows and robins. It’s a vulnerable time for babies and parents, with eggs and newborn chicks being at high risk of predation. This causes the parents to be extremely protective of their young and sometimes display hostile behaviour.

To co-exist together in an urban environment, it’s important to understand where this behaviour comes from and how attacks can be prevented.

Crow nesting season takes place in late spring until early summer, from April to July. When baby crows leave their nest, they spend one to two weeks on the ground building up their strength and coordination while their parents watch over them. This developmental stage is known as the fledgling stage. Fledglings rely heavily on their parents to keep them safe as they hop around on the ground, unable to fly.

Crow parents are quite protective of their young, if you get too close to their babies you risk getting dive-bombed. To prevent these attacks, you can carry an umbrella to provide a physical barrier between you and the birds. If you are aware of certain active nesting areas, choose alternate walking routes to avoid them. Additionally, posting warning signs in the area to let others know about nests can prevent attacks from happening.

Other bird species that can get defensive around this time of year are American robins and thrushes. The birds are creating their territories for mates and nests to raise their babies, which causes them to become quite protective. Even their own reflection in a car window or mirror could cause the birds to display aggressive behaviour.

To prevent robin attacks, placing a sheet, towel, newspapers, car cover, or tarp over your vehicle and mirrors can be effective. For home windows you can put closely spaced adhesive dots or decals on the outside of windows or close your blinds. Anything that diminishes the appearance of a reflection will help deter this behaviour and can also help prevent birds from colliding with your windows.

Additionally, windchimes can be used to deter the bird from the area by sound and their reflection. Hanging CDs, utensils, mylar strips or other reflective objects from balconies, trees, and railings can have a similar effect.

As you venture outdoors this season, if you encounter an orphaned, injured or sick bird it’s recommended to contact the Wildlife Rescue Helpline at [email protected] for support and guidance.

This article was written by Elin Molenaar, the communications assistant at Wildlife Rescue Association.