Nfld. & Labrador

'What a size of a bird': Destructive ravens keep breaking windows in Harbour Breton home

A man in Harbour Breton has been vigilantly guarding his home over the last few weeks after two determined birds destroyed a dozen windows.

Johnaton Poulain forced to leave work in Alberta to protect home from tormenting birds

Two ravens — like the bird attracted to its own reflection in this file photo — have been attacking a Harbour Breton home for the last several weeks, breaking 10 windows. (AP)

A man in Harbour Breton has been vigilantly guarding his home over the last few weeks — not from people trying to break in, but from two birds that seem determined to destroy nearly a dozen windows.

Johnaton Poulain was working in Fort McMurray when a neighbour started sending him videos of what appeared to be two ravens pecking at the windows of his Poulain's new home.

The birds can be seen banging against the panes of glass, and using their beaks to pull apart the rubber seals that hold the panes in place.

Worried about his new home, Poulain rushed back to Newfoundland to survey the damage. That's when he noticed 10 panes of glass had been destroyed, and possibly the entire window unit in the basement.

"The black rubber seal that goes all around the windows there, they're chewing them apart," he told CBC's On The Go.

"And then on the basement window, they tore the screen out of that one. And they were hitting it so hard that there's blood stains all around the window."

A problem he wants nevermore

Poulain believes the ravens may be drawn to their own reflections, and said he quickly got to work on a way to deter the birds from wreaking havoc on his home.

I was actually going to get the priest to come up and bless it, just to be sure.-  Johnaton Poulain

He's tried setting up fake owls in his windows, but said that didn't work. He's also been standing guard, ready to scare the birds away himself when they venture onto his property.

"I picked up an air horn and every time I see them come to the window now I'll bang on the window and they'll take off," he said.

"You pay $300,000 for a home, and I'm in a residential area so you're pretty limited to what you can do. All you can do is put up stuff in the window or make noises."

Poulain suspects the pair of ravens, like the two birds in this file photo, are attracted to their reflection in the panes of his new windows. (The Associated Press)

In an effort to find a solution to his unusual problem, Poulain has called the province's wildlife department, and is waiting for advice on what to do next. Even as he spoke to CBC by phone from his house, Poulain said the birds were flying over the roof of the home, seemingly waiting for him to leave so they could resume their destructive habit.

But Poulain said every day spent guarding his Harbour Breton home is a day away from his job in Fort McMurray. Nevertheless, he said he won't return to Alberta until he can be sure the two ravens are gone for good.

Considered calling a priest

Poulain said he's considered just about everything to ward off the birds — even divine intervention. 

"I was actually going to get the priest to come up and bless it, just to be sure. It's sort of funny in a way, because nobody has ever seen the likes of this go on," he said.

"What a size of a bird, I'll tell you that."

Understanding the bird's eye view

According to Memorial University professor and bird expert Bill Montevecchi, Poulain's situation is very unusual. But he told the St. John's Morning Show that many animals — including ravens — become fascinated with their own reflections. He said ravens and crows are also extremely territorial.

"I would put ravens above most birds because of their intelligence," he said. 

"Sometimes intelligence can misfire, maybe if they're looking at that reflection as an intruder. It's a new house, so the house could well be on their territory, too.

Montevecchi said installing fake owl figurines is useless because the ravens look for movement. Covering the windows to break the reflection may work, as well as continuing to use the air horn to scare them away when they land on the house.

"What he's seeing is certainly extreme, I've never heard anything like that," Montevecchi said.

With files from On The Go and St. John's Morning Show