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Zane Middle School songbird refuge

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The Applicateers


Abstract[edit]

As a rehabilitation effort to restore songbird activity in the migratory bird corridor behind Zane Middle School in Eureka, The Songbird Refuge was commissioned. This project created songbird boxes, some traditional, some experimental, to add preexisting housing for migratory birds as well as supplement a new bird oriented curriculum in the school’s science classes. The Refuge was designed by The Applicateers, four Humboldt State University students who took Engr215 Introduction to Design during their Spring 2014 semester: Cavanaugh Carter, Christian Cota, Ben Voelz, and Jennie Warmack. By working with Steve Wartburg, a biologist and science teacher at Zane Middle School, The Songbird Refuge was tailored to meet the needs of the school and community.

Background[edit]

The Songbird Refuge was created when Zane Middle School, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) middle school in Eureka, teamed up with Humboldt State University students who took Engr215 Introduction to Design during spring 2014. To create additional classroom curriculum and community participation, Zane commissioned four songbird boxes to be placed near a new community trail that winds through the adjacent migratory bird corridor located in the forest behind the school. This corridor is a section of the Pacific Flyway and serves as a temporary seasonal home to hundreds of thousands of birds as well as a permanent home to the nonmigratory species. Of the four songbird boxes commissioned, two are traditional wooden boxes with one tailored to the dimensional needs of wood ducks and one tailored towards smaller birds such as nuthatches and chickadees. The remaining two boxes are experimental to add educational value for the students and community members. The areas of experimentation include materials and an element of community living: four individual dwellings in close proximity to each other. After extensive research regarding the songbird species that would possibly be utilizing the boxes, criteria and specifications were created to decide the best designs and dimensions. Renewable sources and upcycling are both themes that are seen throughout all of the songbird boxes, which not only served to reduce the amount of materials in the Humboldt county waste stream, but also to reduce the overall cost of production.

Problem statement and criteria[edit]

Problem Statement[edit]

The objective of The Songbird Refuge was to attract a higher number of migratory songbirds traveling through the Pacific Flyway, create more housing opportunities for these birds as well as native nonmigratory species, and add educational opportunities for Zane Middle School students and community members.

Criteria[edit]

By working with Steve Wartburg, The Applicateers developed the following criteria as a means of deciding the best designs to be included in the Songbird Refuge. Each criteria was weighted on a scale from 1-10, with a score of 10 denoting high importance.

Criteria Weight Description
Aesthetics 7 Boxes will be earthy, neutral colors to blend in with the surroundings to avoid unwanted attention from predators
Cost 7 The total amount of money spent will not exceed $450
Diversity 7 There will be 3 mounting methods for the boxes: hanging, direct, and by post. The boxes implemented will fit the nesting needs required by a variety of bird species.
Durability 8 Boxes will withstand any impacts by balls from the nearby soccer field and will be fully and securely fastened to the mount.
Capacity 3 Each box will have at least one nesting section to allow for both solidary species and community nesting species.
Reproducibility 7 Each box will be reproducible by 2 students within 14 work hours.
Safety 5 There will be no chance of harming children, teachers, or community members whether by falling off of mount or by the transfer of the tetanus virus.
Sustainable Sourcing 9 All materials used will be renewable resources and/or upcycled to prevent waste.

Description of final project[edit]

The final four designs decided upon were the Bird Bungalow, Chickadee Cottage, Don't Draw-Pot (pronounced "don't drop it"), and Wood Duck Inn. Both the Chickadee Cottage and Wood Duck Inn are based off of traditional wooden bird boxes with dimensions proven to support habitation by the targeted bird species. The Bird Bungalow and Don't Draw-Pot are the two experimental boxes. The Bird Bungalow is our experimental communal design, accommodating up to four nests. The "bungalow" is made up of four used cans mounted on the base of an electrical wire spool and covered by a thin piece of stainless steel. This birdhouse is mounted on a 10’ plastic pole. The Bird Bungalow is designed to accommodate birds such as nuthatches, bushtits, and chickadees. Don’t Draw-pot consists of a teapot nestled in a natural wood stained drawer to add aesthetic value as well as reducing the chance of breakage. The drawer is directly mounted to a tree. The teapot hangs from its handle off of a drawer handle positioned inside of the drawer and the base of the teapot is attached to the drawer to prevent swinging and breakage. The lid is removed to act as an entrance and the spout is left open and pointing down to allow for drainage in case rain blows into the nesting area.

Bird Bungalow
Chickadee Cottage
Don't Draw-Pot
Wood Duck Inn

Costs[edit]

Costs cover both materials and time spent by co-designers throughout the process of creating the songbird refuge.

Material Costs

Quantity Material Source Cost ($) Total ($)
1 Aluminum Dryer Vent Pipe Ace Hardware 4.99 4.99
5’ Chicken Wire Ace Hardware 1.79 8.95
1 Drawer Handle Ace Hardware 2.69 2.69
1 Fencing Concrete Ace Hardware 3.54 3.54
10 Screws Ace Hardware 0.09 0.90
1 PVC Pipe 4”x10’ Ace Hardware 29.99 29.99
1 Silicon Caulk Tube Ace Hardware 4.99 4.99
1 Wooden Dowel Ace Hardware 4.69 4.69
1 Teapot Angels of Hope Thrift Store 2.63 2.63
2lb Aluminum Arcata Scrap & Salvage 2.00 4.00
6lb Stainless Steel Arcata Scrap & Salvage 1.95 11.70
1 Desk Drawer Free Wood Pile Donated Donated
2 Electric Wiring Spools Free Wood Pile Donated Donated
1/2" Plywood The Mill Yard Donated Donated
4 Ravioli Cans Safeway 2.95 11.80
Total Cost $90.87


Design Costs

Design Costs


Testing Results[edit]

The Chickadee Cottage and Wood Duck Inn: These boxes did not require a large amount of testing, as these designs have been tested and proven through years of use. However, after the application of caulking, the seams were tested for water-tightness.
Bird Bungalow: The Bird Bungalow was vigorously shaken to ensure durability during wind storms and bird impact. The roof was also proven to make bird dwellings water tight by leaving the Bungalow in the elements without any water accumulation.
Don't Draw-Pot: This house was tested for durability with a shake test to ensure the teapot will not detach from the drawer.

How to build[edit]

Bird Bungalow: Necessary Materials:

  • 4 Aluminum Cans
  • Large Wooden Wire Spool w/ 16” diameter
  • Sheet metal
  • 4"x10' PVC Pole
  • 1-4’ length 1” dowel
  • 3 Roofing Screws

For Base:

Step 1: Separate spool into two wooden circles and plastic tube
Step 2: Draw out placement of cans on wooden base ( 12” square containing 4 4” diameter circles)
Step 3: Cut wood piece to cover hole in middle of wooden base
Step 4: Use pre-existing holes to bolt wood cover on under-side of base
Step 5: Measure height from top of hole cover in base to desire roof height (specific to house/materials)
Step 6: Cut 1 inch dowel to desired length
Step 7: Fasten with screw from bottom up to wood hole cover
Step 8: Cut desired entry holes in cans
Step 9: Use silicon caulking/adhesive to adhere cans to previously drawn in locations

For Roof:

Step 1: Drill pilot holes in metal/top of wooden dowel
Step 2: Use 1” roofing screw to fasten sheet metal to dowel
Step 3: Bend sheet metal down until it touches the sides of the base
Step 4: Drill pilot holes in metal/side of wooden base
Step 5: Use half inch roofing screws on each side to fasten roof to base


Chickadee Cottage: Necessary Materials:

  • 1/2" Plywood
  • Sheet Metal
  • 16 Wood Screws
  • 4 Eye Hooks
FigureDescription
Chickadee Materials.png Materials list included to aid in pre-assembly
Click picture to enlarge

For Assembly:

FigureDescription
Chickadee Instructions.png Diagram to aid in assembly
Click picture to enlarge
Step 1. Cut the required pieces of wood and metal as specified in the materials diagram.
Step 2. Mount the front piece (with the hole in the front) to the base piece ( the square). Secure the pieces with a screw at each corner where the pieces meet.
Step 3. Mount the back piece (the rectangular piece with no hole) to the bottom. Secure the piece with a screw at each corner where the pieces meet.
Step 4. Attach the two side pieces. The slanted sides should be on top. The taller corner should meet the back end, while the shorter corner should meet the front end. Secure with a screw at each corner where the pieces meet.
Step 5. Attach the metal roof with one screw at each corner. Drill 4 additional small holes along the roof, ensure that they will go through the wood.
Step 6. In these holes, screw an eye hook into each hole.
Step 7. Secure a 6” section of string to each of the hooks, ensure that they meet at the ends. Tie the 4 sections together into a loop, and hang the finished birdhouse from this loop.


Don't Draw-Pot: Necessary Materials:

  • Teapot with lid removed
  • Drawer
  • Drawer Handle
  • Super Glue

Terminology for Assembly: Inner Drawer Face -The inside face of what you would see if the drawer were still in the desk
For Assembly:

Step 1: Locate center of inner drawer face and lightly mark both vertical and horizontal position, creating a cross
Step 2: Place teapot with handle facing the inner drawer face,centering handle on vertical mark from step 1
Step 3: Without shifting teapot horizontally, place drawer handle through teapot handle, centered on vertical mark from step 1 and parallel to horizontal mark from step 1
Step 4: Mark position of drawer handle on inner drawer face
Step 5: Without shifting drawer handle at all, slowly shift teapot away from inner drawer face to the point where the two handles are touching without pressure
Step 5: Mark position of teapot base on bottom of drawer
Step 6: With drawer handle through teapot handle, attach drawer handle to inner drawer face
Step 7: Lift teapot to reveal traced marking from step 5
Step 8: Carefully apply superglue to inner half inch of marking from step 5 and return teapot to its intended position


Wood Duck Inn: Necessary Materials:

  • 1/2" Plywood
  • Upcycled Street Sign
  • 21 Wood Screws
FigureDescription
Wood Duck Materials.png Diagram to aid in assembly
Click picture to enlarge

For Assembly:

Step 1. Cut the required pieces of wood and metal as specified in the materials diagram.
Step 2. Mount the front piece (with the hole in the front) to the base piece. Secure the pieces with a screw at each corner where the pieces meet, as well as a screw in the middle along the bottom edge of the front.
Step 3. Mount the back piece (the rectangular piece with no hole) to the bottom. Secure the piece with a screw at each corner where the pieces meet, as well as a screw in the middle along the bottom edge of the back.
Step 4. Attach the two side pieces. The slanted sides should be on top. The taller corner should meet the front end, while the shorter corner should meet the back end. Secure with a screw at each corner where the pieces meet, as well as screws in the middle of each, along the bottom of the side panels.
Step 5. Attach the metal roof with one screw at each corner and one screw between each corner.
Step 6. **Disclaimer: Consult with an arborist or tree climbing specialist to hang this box.** The front panel must be removed so holes can be drilled through the back panel and into a tree trunk. 3-5 screws should be used to secure the back panel to the trunk. Once the box is secure, reattach the front panel.

Discussion and next steps[edit]

These four songbird boxes are just the beginning of the rehabilitation of the migratory bird corridor and included nature area behind Zane Middle School. A large part of the developing curriculum at Zane is the engineering and construction of these boxes. As students continue to construct these nesting boxes and the total count continues to increase, more and more songbirds will be attracted towards the school, thus furthering the educational opportunities associated.

Promotional Video[edit]

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