Introduction: Airplant Bird Strike Deterrents for Windows

About: I'm a writer and illustrator of books for children and Marvin is a craftsman, carpenter, and retired building contractor. We build various things for our Funny Farm and I write about them.

We live in a house full of windows. Bonking birds was a problem at first, especially young fledglings who don’t know any better. Apparently during the day, birds see a reflection of the outdoors in the glass and figure they can just keep flying. Bonk! Usually a devastating injury occurs. In fact, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, up to a billion birds die from window strikes in the U.S. every year!

So like many people who love birds, we hung stuff in the inside of the windows, close enough so that they’d see it as they flew close. For us, this method has been about 90% effective, more successful than just gluing decals to the windows. And we have a lot of birds because we invite them with housing and a bird-friendly landscape.

I got bored with the stained glass ornaments and other goo-gahs I had hanging in all the windows and saw a photo of a hanging airplant that was secured inside an urchin shell. Wow! An air jellyfish! I immediately ordered shells and tillandsias to create my own jellies. Here's a shout out to Plant Oddities for their amazing variety of airplants - all very healthy and reasonably priced. I'm hooked.

Step 1: Hanging Jellyfish!

The instructions I found said that the tillansia had to be just the right size to stuff in the shell hole. I found that I could either put a piece of toothpick inside as a prop, or glue velcro bits to the inside top of the shell and the tillandsia. There is the option to stuff in more than one plant if you like which I did for one of them.Then just hang with fishing line.

PS one of the shells had a large hole on top, so I put a two-hole button inside and strung the fishing line through that. Problem solved.

Step 2: Securing With Velcro

And here's what I did inside the urchin shell and also for a rock display. You could just glue the airplant on anything you want, but I like to be able to remove them for their weekly water bath and other care. Tillandsias do not like to have a wet base, and water could potentially get trapped inside a shell.

Step 3: Yesssssss Wire Hangers!

(Does anyone remember the movie, Mommie Dearest?) After creating the airplant jellies, I decided to make wire hangers. I tried aluminum wire first, then switched to galvanized. Both are 18 gauge.

The simplest hanger I saw on Pinterest was just a few rounds that were tied at the top. You can twist the wire to secure it, or use strong clear packing tape. I've tried both methods.

I also added beads. The beads fit loosely, so I just glued a few of them in place and let them dry before hanging. They glint like dew drops when the sun hits them!

Step 4: Spiral Wire Hanger

This is a simple and elegant wire design. I noticed a nice Instructable about this one, but with no beads, so here’s my version! As you can see the beads are placed while the hanger is laying on a table, not hanging. Otherwise the beads want to spiral to the bottom of the hanger.

To acquire the shape, I just use whatever round things I can find to bend the wire, then keep fussing with it until it gets the look I want.

Step 5: Get Down!

By the way, I hung some of the plants higher than I could reach to get them down for watering, so I wrapped a piece of wire on the end of a light bamboo stick to use as a getter downer and putter back upper.

Step 6: Spiral Wire Holder for a Base

There is also the option of placing an airplant in the window rather than hanging it. A wire holder would lift the plant up so that it was visible to the birds outside. I made a spiral with a leg from the steel wire. I also made holders using black 20 gauge wire. It was easier to bend, but not as strong.

I thought a block of wood would be cool for the base. I didn’t use beads because the focus was on the pretty wood.

Step 7: Cut, Sand, Drill

My crafty partner cut and sanded some maple we had. Then I just drilled a hole, dropped in a dab of Elmer's glue, and stuck in the spiral wire holder. Once it was dry, I placed the airplant. The base is light enough to grab from a high window to bring the plant down for its bath. But they also look cool at eye-level.

Step 8: Rock On!

The last idea I had was to drill a hole in a rock for an airplant base! Alas it turned out none of our drill bits would drill easily into a dang rock, so I ordered an inexpensive set of ceramic drill bits. Meanwhile, here's one I created from a chunk of petrified wood. I just glued the wire holder into the tiny hole I managed to drill with a concrete bit to pose it for this photo. It later fell over.

By the way, a rock base will need to be in a place we can reach, for obvious reasons.

Step 9: More Fun Airplant Holders!

I also put tillandsias in other bright spots around the house, using whatever I thought might be interesting, such as a beaver skull, driftwood, a holey rock, and a candle holder. As many have pointed out, you can put these plants almost anywhere! No soil required. They just want bright light and a water bath. There are other schools of thought on all that, but in Western Oregon, the weekly bath seems to work well.

By the way, tillandsias are non-toxic in case your furry friends decide to make a snack out of them, but I do take extra care to put them out of the reach of our crazy cats.

Thanks for reading this Instructable, and I hope you got some fun ideas. Meanwhile, I need to order more airplants!