That was my goal. So I designed a bamboo screen to hang on the exterior of my origami folding studio windows.
It all began when Fred gave me this green, wire caged bird feeder for Christmas. I hadn't ever had a bird feeder before. I thought they would be too much work, too messy, and not worth the effort to maintain. Boy was I wrong. I loved the birds it brought to the yard so much I now have five feeders, though one is put away until next winter. LOL. And I went out all winter long, every day, even in sub-zero temperatures to tend to them.
I had already purchased an electric water heater to help keep drinking water available to the birds during the coldest parts of our Michigan winter. I'd read they will die within days if all of their natural water sources freeze over. And when temperatures are frigid the energy it could take for them to fly further to find a water source could be too much if they have to fly too far. They need their energy just to stay warm, not to travel long distances. During snow and ice storms and the extreme cold of the Polar vortexes the drinking water was there for them. One little bird even took a bath on a frigidly cold morning.
Everything was great. I was enjoying seeing the birds right outside my studio window until the day a black-capped chickadee crashed into the window and died. Actually, there were either three chickadees that collided with the window within a few hours of each other or the same bird hit the window three times.
I felt so bad. The only thing I could think to do at that moment was lean a gardening rake up against the glass. Which, while unaesthetic, seemed to stop the problem that day.
Did you know that many of the birds that seem to tap into a window but fly away will die later due to internal injuries and/or head trauma? Knowing it was within my power to lessen the odds of harming our feathered friends I began researching different ways to protect them from window collisions (aka as window strikes).
After extensively digging on the internet for a ready to purchase solution I was surprised how difficult it was to find something that would be highly effective, inexpensive, and visually pleasing. After thinking for a few days I decided to invent my own solution. Recalling the very simple, yet attractive, hand-tied bamboo fences I've seen in formal, Japanese gardens I came up with this...
A bamboo window screen, hand tied with sisal rope, attached to the glass with outdoor plastic hooks.
I began by taping bamboo vertical planting stakes to the inside of the window. There was no point working on this outside in the cold.
Using a small hacksaw I cut the stakes to their appropriate lengths.
Because bamboo is an imperfect medium, thicker on one end than the other and often bent or slightly curved, I didn't worry about accurately measuring out the dimensions of the sizes of the squares. I just went with what looked good.
Beginning from the top of the window I attached each horizontal cross stake by lashing the intersecting points together with sisal twine. I show how I did this in the video.
Initially I used plastic zip ties, still tying twine over them to hide them, but soon realized they weren't necessary. If you'd like to use them I'd recommend only using them on the four outermost corners and using twine for everywhere else. One reason is the zip ties only last so long outdoors. They will break within a few years due to weather and UV damage.
Tip: Wear fitted gloves to do this. I pretty much wrecked my hands the first day because the twine is so rough but needs to be pulled taut at all times.
It took a few days but before I knew it the screen was ready to hang. First I measured where the top two hooks should go by placing tape on the inside of the window with the screen in place. I had to place them against the actual screen to figure this out.
Next I used a sharpie to mark exactly where I wanted to place the hook once I was outside. Later, I wiped the ink off the window with some glass cleaner or a little rubbing alcohol. I don't remember which.
I used 3M Command Strip outdoor, plastic hooks to hang the screen from. BUT instead of using the adhesive strips they come with them I used a heavier velcro adhesive fastener by Scotch instead. It's more visible but held up beautifully all winter long.
Using the hooks allows me to easily remove the screen to clean the window. I just lift it out of the hooks. I was pleasantly surprised that heavy winds don't blow any of them down.
I then decided to make similar screens for the rest of the windows...
On the 5' square sliding window I placed the hooks on the window frame so that I'll be able to put its screen in place and slide the window open as needed.
I actually love how the screens look from the outside. They give the studio a lot more character. My new view is slightly obstructed but worth it (to me) if it saves bird's lives.
Tips not included in the video:
- Wear gloves. I began making the round screen without them. And regretted it that evening. The sisal twine eats away at your hands due to the amount of tension needed to keep it pulled tight as you bind the poles together.
- Sit on the floor to make the screens and use your bare feet. Literally. Even in the video I was using my feet to hold the other ends of the poles in place as I worked the twine with my hands.
- To attach to a window that doesn't open I prefer to use the clear hooks and adhesive. To attach to a window that will be fitted with a screen so the sliding window can be opened I attached with the dark colored hooks to the window frame.
Bamboo plant stakes
Sisal Twine Zip ties (optional)
Outdoor plastic hooks (3M Command Strip Outdoor Hooks)
Outdoor velcro adhesive strips (Scotch "Extreme" Fastner Velcro)
Small hack saw
If you'd like to learn more about preventing both day and nighttime bird window collision injuries and deaths please visit
FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) is the organization I mention in the video.
Why Birds Hit Windows—And How You Can Help Prevent It (All About Birds- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
Things You Can Do to Prevent Window Strikes (Bird Watchers Digest)
Ever wonder why birds seem to throw themselves at your window? (Wild Birds Unlimited)
Collisions with Glass – A serious, preventable threat to birds (Michigan Audubon)
STOP BIRDS HITTING WINDOWS (American Bird Conservancy)
To purchase ready-made window coverings visit Collidescape.org
How rewarding is all of the effort feeding, watering, and building screens for the birds? With the exception of the Eastern towhee, here are some of the birds that now visit the yard on a regular basis landing about 10 feet (3 meters) away from, and photographed through the glass of the round window even with the bamboo screen in place: