About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How did people keep birds and animals out of their homes before the invention of window screens?

The American colonists learned about yellow fever shortly after they arrived in the New World. The spread of this plague by mosquitoes devastated many communities.

Finally in 1861 an employee that made wire mesh sieves for food processing realized that the wire cloth could be sold as window screens to prevent critters from coming through open windows. By 1874, E.T. Barnum Company of Detroit, Michigan became very successful selling window screens, and today in the United States, not having screens on the window would be unacceptable in most areas.

So what did people do before screens? I had a customer come in to shop at our Wild Birds Unlimited recently that had spent a year in the UK. She said if she ever had to live there again she would open a screen shop. What she missed the most about the U.S. were the screens on the windows, doors, and chimneys. She told me she couldn’t keep her pets in the house, animals from nesting in the chimney, or the birds from stealing her morning toast.

Good question!

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