Friday, January 10, 2014

Big Window (finally!) Made Safe for Birds

My historic stone house probably has fewer windows than most houses. Back in the mid-1800's when it was built, conserving heat was no doubt more important than grand, sweeping views. Tucked against a hill and facing south, the builders knew what they were doing (don't ask me how the heck they moved, cut and placed all those big stones)!

Fast-forward to 1989, when the addition was built, complete with a large picture window. I figured with modern heating, I could go for that grand, sweeping view of my restored prairie and the fields and wooded hill beyond. But with the big window, came more and more window strikes. I was losing birds. Problem was, the windows perfectly reflected the trees and sky--and birds couldn't tell the difference, no matter what I tried. My beloved male Eastern Bluebird (below, the saddest photo ever) was one such casualty early last summer. This winter, we finally did something about it.


My research to find the best solution led me to an article in Bird Watcher's Digest, written by naturalist, birder, and author Julie Zickefoose. She and her husband Bill had experimented with one thing after another to eliminate bird strikes on the large windows in their southern Ohio home. Then they found the perfect thing, and shared it with readers. I said to myself, Why look further? I printed out the article and laid it on the kitchen table in front of my birding and digiscoping partner, Dale. Before I knew it, he had gathered up the materials and the project was underway.

After some careful measuring, Dale primed, painted, and sealed the PVC poles to make them as invisible as possible against the house. Once the paint was dry, he cut them to the 4 sections needed to span the window.


Then Dale formed the cut poles in to a frame with PVC elbow joints.  He drilled holes every 6 inches, set screws in each, and stretched the nylon crop netting taut, using the screws as anchors. He attached the L-brackets to the house, and we lifted the finished frame and set it neatly on the brackets, securing them with zip-ties. Voila!



There hasn't been one fatality since we installed it, and we are evaluating expanding the project to include the half-round window above it--though it may not be necessary.  I was truly surprised at how nearly invisible the netting is from the inside. Click here to see Julie Zickefoose's blog post, with fabulous photos of fall migrating birds taken right through her net-protected window.

This gray morning we had freezing fog, and suddenly the netting was decorated with delicate ice crystals!  This is how it looked:


We couldn't be happier with our Do-It-Yourself project. We call it our ZickNet.  Thanks for doing my homework, Julie Zickefoose! Long live our yard birds, and those we're lucky enough to host as they pass through.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.


  1. Hi Nina, I was having the same issue with Birds flying in a window also. My Birds unlimited started carrying UV Liquid, witch you apply to window, and it dries clear. No Birds have hit the window after putting it on about 3 weeks ago. Thanks for your tip also.

  2. Nina, this makes me so very happy. Found it when I was googling my own article. You Rock!! I'm dreading the day my netting finally gives out but so far so good! I'm so glad this worked for you!


  3. Thanks, Julie! It works like a charm. All the best! ~Nina


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