How to Make Acopian BirdSavers using Vinyl J Channel

for the top Horizontal piece.

In this example, for the top horizontal support, we will use the readily available, inexpensive, and good looking, vinyl J Channel (also called Drywall J Bead). This is available at Home Depot and costs about $1.70 for a 10 foot long piece. Any other material could also be used for the top horizontal support; such as wood moulding, aluminum extrusion, small diameter PVC pipe, etc.

Step 1: Measure the width of the glass.

Decide how far apart you want the cords to be and then use these tables to determine how many cords will be needed. If there is more than one pane of glass in your window, you may want to have a look at the “Acopian BirdSavers Cord Spacing Examples” before taking any measurements.

See FAQ – How far apart should I space the BirdSavers paracords?

Step 2: Drill that number of holes in the J channel.

For the number of cords you will need (which you determined in Step 1), drill that number of holes in the J channel at the distance apart you also decided upon in Step 1. The holes should be just a little bit larger diameter than the diameter of the paracord, so that the paracord will easily fit into the hole, but the cord with one knot tied in it won’t go through the hole. Leave an inch or so of extra J channel material beyond the holes on both of the ends.

Step 3: Decide how you are going to mount the BirdSavers.

You can use small screws (#6 x 3/8” stainless steel sheet metal screws work very nicely), or you can use velcro.

If you are going to mount with screws, drill mounting holes in the J Channel. If you are going to mount with velcro, cut the velcro pieces and attach to the J Channel.

Step 4: Determine the length of the paracord pieces you will need.
You have two choices:

Option #1, the option we prefer (because it looks so cool!), is to make the BirdSavers so that the cords do not go all the way to the bottom of the glass. It looks more aesthetically pleasing when you can see an inch or two of space between the bottoms of the cords and the bottom of the glass, like in the photo below:

Option #2 is to have the cords go all the way to the bottom of the glass and beyond, like in the photos below:

Volunteers at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge installed Acopian Birdsavers on windows to prevent bird mortality. Photo credit: USFWS

To the birds it makes no difference which option you choose; you will achieve a 90 to 100 percent reduction in bird-window collisions with option #1 or option #2.


To make our custom BirdSavers, we use Mil-Spec paracord (parachute cord), which has minimal shrinkage. Paracord that is not Mil-Spec (which includes most paracord commercially available) will shrink after getting wet. We’ve seen shrinkage up to 12% in some types of paracord! If you choose to make your BirdSavers using Option #1 above, this could eventually leave an area at the bottom of the window with ‘exposed’ glass that a bird could fly into. Because of this, you might want to consider soaking the paracord in a bucket of water for 24 hours and then let it dry (to ‘pre-shrink’ it) before making your BirdSavers. Or you can test a small piece first to determine if ALL the cord needs to be pre-shrunk; simply take a 5’ piece of cord and soak it for 24 hours. Then let it dry. If it shrinks more than about 2.5% (1.5″) then you might want to consider soaking ALL the cord for 24 hours before cutting any pieces. Unfortunately, even some paracord that is sold as “Mil-Spec”, in reality, is not truly Mil-Spec and will shrink.


If you are making Option #1 BirdSavers:
Determine the length of the paracord pieces you will need so that when they are hanging they stop about an inch or inch and a half above the bottom of the glass. A knot will be tied at the very end of each paracord to hold the paracord from slipping through the hole you drilled in the J Channel. That knot will use up about one inch of paracord, so add that one inch to the length of the paracord you will
need.

If you are making Option #2 BirdSavers:
Determine the length of the paracord pieces you will need so that they stop wherever you determine you would like them to stop. A knot will be tied at the very end of each paracord to hold the paracord from slipping through the hole you drilled in the J Channel. That knot will use up about one inch of paracord, so add that one inch to the length of the paracord you will need.

Step 5: Cut the paracord to the length you need and melt the ends with a match.

See FAQ – I made my own BirdSavers, but the white inner strands of the Cordshow where the cord is cut…

Step 6: Tie a single knot at one end of each paracord

Tie a single knot in the very end of each piece of paracord and thread each paracord piece through each hole in the J Channel. Your BirdSavers is now ready to be installed on the window!

Step 7: Positioning the BirdSavers

Hold the BirdSavers against the window in the position that it should be in when it is in it’s final position – Position the BirdSavers so that the two ‘hanging cords’ on each end are the same distance from each side of the window. When you are comfortable with where the BirdSavers will hang, you can attach the BirdSavers to the building, using either the screws or the velcro.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

After the BirdSavers is installed, any kinks or curves in the ‘hanging cords’ can be smoothed out by holding the offending cord near the top with your fingers and then pulling (straightening) the bottom of the cord with your other hand.

Step 9: Send Us Some Photos!

When you are finished, please send us some photos. We would love to see your BirdSavers! Thanks. dizzybird@birdsavers.com

Final installation of Completed BirdSavers on Window: