Driver stumped as bird caught smashing windscreen in unusual behaviour

A fascinating video has captured the moment the 'bloody clever bird' picks up pebbles and use them to smash at the glass.

Australian drivers have been left scratching their heads after a somewhat perplexing video captured native birds using small rocks to break car windscreens in the nation's capital.

A Canberra resident posted the video to Facebook, asking other locals for help in understanding the unexpected bird behaviour, noting it has been happening throughout the Belconnen area.

A bird is shown picking up a rock in its beak and using it to hit a windshield.
The bird was seen using a rock to try to crack a car's windshield. Source: Facebook/ Canberra Notice Board Group

"There's bad bird behaviour leading to broken car windscreens in my neighbourhood. The birds take little stones in their beak and knock on the windshields," they wrote.

"Can anyone assist with information to understand this behaviour and what can be done if anything, to stop them from continuing."

Yahoo News Australia reached out to Wildlife Ecologist Dr Grainne Cleary to ask about the bird's seemingly destructive behaviour – and why we're seeing it. She confirmed the type of bird is a white-wing chough, a highly social species native to Australia.

'Social intelligence of birds is huge'

Cleary said the video was "amazing" and goes to show just how much we still have to learn about Australian birds.

"We've only really seen this type of behaviour in primates before. If you think about it, the bird has taught itself to pick up this stone and use it against the screen. It's amazing!"

"The social intelligence of birds is huge. When we live and work with other individuals it increases intelligence, so the bird might be enjoying the sound of the stone hitting the window or trying to understand how to make the window crack."

Cleary said much more research is needed to understand why the chough is behaving like that.

"A few of the comments have suggested they can see food, but the person has confirmed there's no food in the car and there's also suggestions it could be seeing its reflection and trying to attack it, thinking it's another bird, but birds don't attack each other with stones when they see each other in real life."

More research needed

Cleary said there are very few reports relating to bird behaviour like what is being displayed in the video.

"The only other report I can find, which is similar to this is from 1971 when a researcher observed a right-winged chough use one muscle shell to bang against another, to try and open the shell to get the meat out of it."

Grainne Cleary shown holding a galah.
Cleary says more research is needed into this type of bad bird behaviour, and it's pretty amazing to see it on film. Source: Supplied

She's urged Australians to continue to show interest in Australia's wildlife.

"We have such magic birds and people really care about them. It's great. You see when we have bushfires or floods people are always worried about the animals and want to help and one of the best things we can do is monitor for change, like the behaviours shown in this video."

What is a white-winged chough?

The Australian Museum describes the chough as a large, almost completely black bird with a curved beak, red eye and large white wing patch seen when the bird is in flight.

The native birds live in social clans of seven to ten individuals and defend their nest territory during breeding season with "wing-waving" displays to deter unwanted intruders.

They are found throughout most of eastern and south-eastern mainland Australia, but are absent from northern Queensland.

A white-winged chough pictured on some sandy soil.
The white-winged chough (corcorax melanorhamphos) is a large almost completely black bird with a curved beak, a red eye and a large white wing patch which can be seen in flight. Source: Supplied

Aussies delighted by 'bloody clever' birds

People commenting on the video after it was shared on Facebook were delighted by the vision. "I know it’s destructive, but thank you for getting a video of the behaviour - this is really cool!" one person wrote. Another said: "Bloody clever little birds".

Many were just surprised by the footage: "So weird," one woman wrote. While someone else said that the footage was "amazing, but annoying".

How to stop windscreen breakage

Cleary suggested that car owners try a few approaches to stop their windscreens from being broken.

"You could try to put the sun shield or visor on the outside of the car. It would stop the birds from hitting the glass with the stone," she said.

There were plenty of other suggestions from concerned residents commenting on the post too, with many taking a humorous approach to solving the problem. The ideas included everything from using a rubber toy snake to scare the bird off to giving them a stern talking to and asking them to do damage elsewhere. One person said putting a towel over the windshield would help to keep the birds away.

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