Designing for nature – Project Bird House

I recently became a member of the RSPB and was sent their ‘Give nature a home’ booklet (http://homes.rspb.org.uk/) as seen advertised on TV. Their powerful message of ‘if you build it they will come’ inspired me to explore this as a short project. Of course I am aware these animals would probably be just as happy with traditional wooden natural houses, however, I thought this could be an exciting small scaled proposal which might inspire people to pursue it further. It is a nice sized project that will encourage a lot of the thought processes used with larger schemes.

Inspiration below:

This post will look specifically at some of my most popular visitors here at home. A birdhouse should be designed with a certain bird in mind. The image above is one I explored looking at designs for Blue Tits. Blue Tits are widely spread in Britain and are also regular visitors to my garden year round. They are known to thrive in the nesting boxes. Just like designing for a human, individual bird species with have their own requirements for how they live, so after some initial research I was able to form a program in which to follow when designing my bird house.

Program:

  • Security – The birds are very sensitive to the need of feeling safe. This can be controlled by using appropriate dimensions that are similar to those they choose in their natural habitats. The box height, depth and floor, diameter of entrance hole and height of hole above the box floor are all important aspects for nesting birds and should be considered early in the design stage.
  • Ventilation – Without adequate ventilation in the nesting box it can cause overheating for the birds who are used to living in cold temperatures.
  • Drainage – Looking carefully at drainage it is easy to see why this is important in birdhouse design. Designing it in order to not retain water can reduce/eliminate harboring bacteria and parasites. Slanted roofs to drain rainwater are a common feature to most birdhouses.
  • Accessibility – A safe location must be chosen for the birdhouse. When the birds are sleeping or caring for their young they are at their most vulnerable. Hanging them high in the trees is a good option for security.
  • Limiting predator access – The entrance hole should only be big enough for the desired bird to enter. This limits the amount of larger animals that could get in. Building a perch outside the door is not always advisable as predators can use it, so predator guards should be considered.
  • Ease of maintenance – Potential for a removable lid to clean out the box in between residents is crucial. This will keep the nesting box usable for years.
  • Weathering – Careful consideration for the materials and how they will perform within the climate and the environment will be an area of focus if I want to design something to be sustainable and comfortable.

I hope to do a follow up post in the future with a more in-depth and completed project overview. I am aiming to complete around 10-15 A3 pages for this project in total to keep it at a manageable size, whilst juggling it with my evening course and preparing myself to go back to University.