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Zane Middle School bat and bird boxes

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About this device
Image6.png
Pictured above are the bat box and bird houses. Starting from left to right there is the Bat BnB, Chickadee Cabin, and the Huthatch Homestead.
Keywords Birdhouse, Nesting Box, Bat Box, Upcycle, Sustainable, Zane Middle School, ENGR 215, Spring 2021, Birds, Bats
Uses Education, Upcycle, Habitat
Authors Lonny Grafman
Emilio Velis
Valerie Keody
Alex Garza
Rize Martins de Oliveira
Status Deployed
Made? Yes
Replicated? No
Made in Humboldt, United States
Affiliations Humboldt State University
License data
Instructions data
Translation data

Home Tweet Home is a nesting box project that aims to create habitats for the local and migratory bird and bat species at Zane Middle School in Eureka, California while sparking an interest in up-cycling and design. The project consists of two bird boxes and one bat box. This project was built and designed in Spring 2021 by Humboldt State University students who took ENGR215 Introduction to Design. The Wingineers worked on the project. The team is comprised of Alex Garza, Valerie Keody, and Rize Martins de Oliveira. The motivation for this project is that out of all the projects presented, it was one of the few projects that is more involved with wildlife and the surrounding environment. The group is excited to educate the students at Zane Middle School and the community about the local bird and bat species and inspire the target audience to up-cycle more.

Background[edit | edit source]

Zane Middle School is located in Eureka, CA. The instructors teach their students using a STEAM based curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). The Environmental Resources Engineering department at Humboldt State University has worked with Zane in the past on the Songbird Refuge Project in 2014 with Engineering 215 students in Team Applicateers to add bird boxes to house migratory and local birds along the migratory bird corridor that goes through campus. Zane is interested in implementing several more nest boxes that are composed primarily of up-cycled materials and that work well with the school’s aesthetic. Julie Stewart is a teacher at Zane Middle School, and she provides the Wingineers with perspective and deep knowledge as a teacher at the school; she is the client representative for this project.

Problem statement[edit | edit source]

The objective of project Home Tweet Home is to create up-cycled nest boxes that provide shelter for local migratory bird and bat species in the forested areas surrounding Zane Middle School. Additionally, the project seeks to encourage students to reuse and up-cycle existing materials while sparking an interest in engineering. This project aims to add educational opportunities for Zane Middle School students and community members.

Criteria:

By working with Julie Sterwart, The Wingineers developed the following criteria to help guide the design process and as a means of deciding the best designs to be included in Home Tweet Home. Each criteria was weighted on a scale from 1-10, with a score of 10 denoting high importance.

Criteria Description Weight (1-10)
Cost The amount of money spent for acquiring, producing and maintaining the project. Project must not exceed budget of $325. 3
Durability Durability is the ability of the project to withstand weather conditions, use, and middle school students over its designed lifetime of three years considering design level, outdoor environment, and use conditions. 7
Aesthetics The project must match the basic spirit of Zane Middle School while not drawing attention from predators. 8
Safety Nontoxic/untreated materials must be used and project shall meet existing Zane safety standards as to not harm students, faculty, and community members. 10
Sustainability All reused and recycled materials used must come to less embodied energy than a new bird house. 9
Reproducibility Each box can be reproduced within 5-10 hours with proper materials by a single student. 5
Habitability The nest boxes must encourage the specific species that they were built for to inhabit them safely. 8

Prototyping[edit | edit source]

Below are some examples of the prototyping process for this project including what we learned.

The photo above on the left depicts a method that allows for the birdhouse to be hung on a pole or branch. This gives a variety of placements so not all of the birdhouses would have to be put against tree trunks. The birdhouse would have two holes at the top so rope can be put through. The rope ends will be tied so the bird house can hang. The cardboard box in this prototype represents the bird box. The photos above on the right feature a backboard mounting method which a number of the alternative solutions had or could easily be incorporated into. To help add support, there is a strip of cardboard that attaches to the bottom of the box to then connect with whatever the box is hung on. The prototype utilizes pins that would be substituted for screws for the project. All cardboard would also be wood. The angle that the connecting wood and bottom of the bird house should be a 45-degree angle because that is one of the most structural sound angles used in architecture. This method would work best for models that have the back of the bird box in touch with whatever it is hung on. Examples would be buildings or trees.

The photos above show a way to open the bird box in the Chickadee Cabin design and the test conducted to determine waterproof and non-toxic adhesives.

Using roof hinges in order to be able to clean out the old chickadee nests so the next mating pair can build their new home. This proved to be the most accessible over a revolving side panel when it came to the simple birdhouse design made of Jenga blocks.

LOCTITE 2-part epoxy and Gorilla wood glue were selected as two possible choices for construction. Adhesives were applied to 3 similar wooden dowels as per instructions and left to dry for the amount of time directed. The epoxy and wood glue both formed a bond between wood of similar strength, but the epoxy dried in a harder state than the wood glue. This could make it difficult, if not impossible, for birds to pick off pieces of adhesive. In research, it was discovered that when mixed, 2-part epoxy forms inert plastic material that does not give off fumes like its liquid counterpart. Gorilla wood glue’s non-toxicity could not be verified. The only other wood adhesive to consider is TITEbond II or III.

Final designs: Bat Bnb, Chickadee Cabin, Nuthatch Homestead (from left to right)

Final product[edit | edit source]

After research and prototyping was completed, three designs were chosen to be constructed and installed at Zan Middle School. The Bat BnB was chosen as the final bat box design, and both the Nuthatch Homestead and Chickadee Cabin were chosen as the two birdhouse designs.

Construction[edit | edit source]

Bat BnB[edit | edit source]

Informational sign displayed near Bat Bnb
CAD drawing of plywood panels for Bat Bnb

The Bat BnB is designed like common bat boxes with chambers, an exposed bottom, and overhanging roof. The bat box was put together with the use of screws. There is no way to open the bat box because bat box maintenance does not include cleaning due to the fact that there is no bottom floor panel. The bat box was painted a warm brown color that is dark. This was done to absorb heat in the winter due to the soldier temperatures in Humboldt County. The paint used for the bat box is nontoxic for wildlife. The bat box is made of 6 wooden panels. The back of the bat box is longer than the rest of the sides to provide a landing area for the bats. The box has two chambers which means that there is one wooden divider in the box to create chambers that are one inch wide. There is then a front panel that is shorter than the back panel and two side panels that are the same height as the front panel. There is a straight roof that protrudes out of the back panel to create an overhang. The overhang roof element is intended to prevent rain from getting into the bat box. The bat box is intended to be hung along the wall of a building. Bat boxes are more likely to be inhabited if on a building opposed to a tree. Additionally, the bat box will need to be monitored to make sure that a wasp’s nest does not form and paint touch ups will be needed every couple of years to maintain the color and appearance. The bat box is installed near an informational sign shown shown in the image to the right that includes a scannable QR code that links to this Appropedia page.

CAD drawing of completed Bat Bnb

Steps[edit | edit source]

1) Cut 3/4" plywood to the proper sizes:

-1x backplate: 30"x17"

-1x roof: 20.5"x6"

-1x front face:16.25"x24"

-1x divider: 15"x24"

-2x sides: 2.75"x24"

2) Attach wood pieces to back plate in the way outlined in the cad drawing to the right

3) Weather seal cracks with 2-part expoxy

4) paint in a dark brown/black color in order to keep temperature consistent for bats

Chickadee Cabin[edit | edit source]

Informational sign displayed near Chickadee Cabin

Jenga Blocks were used in a brick-like fashion to build up the walls of this bird box. Recycled plywood, donated by Ace Hardware, was used for the base of the bird box and also the roof panels. Hinges and a small zinc-plated silver steel hook and eye clasp were used to secure the opening roof panel. The birdhouse is installed near an informational sign shown shown in the image to the right that includes a scannable QR code that links to this Appropedia page.

Steps[edit | edit source]

1) Glue jenga blocks together in pattern shown in the CAD drawing.

2) cut 3/4" plywood to sizes:

-1x base: 6.5"x6.5"

-1x roof 1: 4.75"x7"

-1x roof 2: 5.25"x7"

2) Att chabase to Jenga blocks with wood glue

3) Wait for glue to dry completely

4) Attach larger roof piece with wood screws

5) Attach smaller roof piece to larger one with hinge.

6) Attach smaller roof piece to Jenga walls with locoking eye hook

7) Drill entrance hole in side of birdhouse with a 1 1/4" inch diameter hole saw

Nuthatch homestead[edit | edit source]

CAD drawing of completed Nuthatch Homestead

The Nuthatch Homestead is a basic dimension construction birdhouse constructed of ⅞ in plywood. The boards are attached to each other using wood screws. The front door panel of the birdhouse is hinged and folds forward for cleaning. When not being cleaned, the panel is held in place by an identical locking hook and eye used in the Chickadee Cabin. The Nuthatch Homestead does not utilize typical ventilation and drainage holes, but instead these demands are fulfilled by ¼ inch gaps at the top and bottom ends of the door panel. The roof panel is weather sealed using non-toxic two-part epoxy. The entire birdhouse is also painted a dark brown color similar to that of redwood bark. The interior of the birdhouse is lined with wood shavings in order to provide nesting material. The birdhouse is installed near an informational sign shown shown in the image to the right that includes a scannable QR code that links to this Appropedia page.

Informational sign displayed near Nuthatch Homestead

Steps[edit | edit source]

1) Cut 3/4" plywood to the proper sizes:

-1x back: 5.25"x12"

-1x roof: 2.25"x7"

-1x front:8"x5.25"

-1x floor: 5.5"x7"

-2x sides: 5.5"x10"

2) Saw sides at an angle so that one side is 9" long.

3) Attach sides to backing, then floor and roof.

4) Attach front to floor with hinge.

5) Attach front to side with locking eye hook.

6) Using 1 1/4" diameter hole saw drill an entrance hole in the front.

Bill of materials[edit | edit source]

Material Quantity Actual Cost Retail Cost
2" hinge 1 6.29 6.29
1" hinge 1 4.49 4.49
safety hook clasp 2 5.38 2.69
non-toxic dark brown interior paint 1qt 1 3.39 16.99
non-toxic light brown interior paint 1qt 1 3.39 16.99
10" hacksaw 1 8.54 8.54
60 grit sandpaper 1 2.2 2.2
1/4" hole saw 1 6.64 6.64
Titebond 3 wood glue 1 9.34 9.34
spray paint 2 6.78 3.39
foam brush 1 0.84 0.84
paint brush 2.5" 1 2.37 2.37
paintbrush 2" 1 2.12 2.12
gorilla wood glue 1 2.78 2.78
loctite epoxy 1 2.97 2.97
whittler's kit 1 5.99 5.99
plywood sheet 3/4" thick, 4'x8' 1 0 60
jenga set 1 0 16.99
eye hook screw 1 2.69 2.69
corner brace 1 3.59 3.59
chain quick link 1 1.79 1.79
QR code stickers 50 28 28
Subtotal 109.58
Total with tax 118.89
Total Saved 88.8

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

The outline below describes the maintenance that is to be done in order to keep the birdhouses habitable. The Bat BnB does not require maintenance besides painting and making sure no wasp nests are overtaking the box. As for the Nuthatch Homestead and the Chickadee Cabin, the nesting materials inside should be cleaned out yearly and either replaced or left empty. Maintenance costs are calculated below.

Maintenance Task Frequency Cost/Year
Cleaning birdhouses 1 year $0
Replacing nest material 1 year $0.50
Repainting 3 years $5.67
Replacing QR stickers 3 years $0
Total Cost/Year $7.17

Schedule[edit | edit source]

Yearly (must be done during off season in August)
  • cleaning birdhouse interior
  • replacing nest material
Every 3 years
  • repainting with nontoxic, no VOC paint

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Testing results[edit | edit source]

To test the durability of the bat box and the bird houses, they were left outdoors after completion. When left outdoors when it was raining. This was done to test the durability of the wood, the strength of the paint, and the adhesives and epoxy that was used for sealing gaps. After having dried, all of the nesting boxes were completely fine. Neither the spray paint for the logo or the paint used for the entire nesting boxes ran or smudged. The interior of all of the boxes were either completely or mostly dry.

Discussion[edit | edit source]

The test was done to see how durable the projects would hold up in the harsher weather in Humboldt County and they all came out unscathed. It is important that the birdhouses cold withstand the rain because a criteria of the project is durability. Although the estimated lifetime is 3 years, considering the design and quality of materials, the nesting boxes can and will last longer than the estimated lifetime. All that will need to be done is a paint job to maintain the outward appearance. Additionally, the laser etched signs made to accompany each nesting box should last the same. All of the signs were screwed down to prevent the middle school students from removing or breaking them. The stickers on each sign will need to be replaced if the QR code can no longer be scanned due to it's own condition. The solution was having 50 stickers printed and given to the school for replacement purposes.

Lessons learned[edit | edit source]

Lessons that were learned while working on the project is being explicit with the appropedia page for the project. Throughout the project, the team looked to the appropedia page of the previous project, the Songbird Refuge, however, there was some lacking information. This includes the mounting methods used to install the nesting boxes. Additionally, it is clear that when asking a company or business, it is important to ask about the prices. The team reached out to a local company to make stickers. The details of the stickers were discussed but the price for the stickers was not mentioned and although the cost of the project is not one of the most important factors, the price is still relevant for calculating the project cost and ensuring the project is below the budget.

Next steps[edit | edit source]

For the best outcome, the nesting boxes should be checked on periodically for habitability and maintenance purposes. This includes changing out the nesting material in the birdhouses every year and making sure no wasp nests have formed on or inside of the bat box. Paint touch ups will need to be done to maintain their outward appearance but are not necessary for the nesting boxes to perform their functions. Additionally, the information signs will need to be checked to ensure that the QR codes still function. The QR code stickers will need to be replaced every couple of years due to damage but the amount of time until each replacement will depend on the condition of each sticker.

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

Problem Suggestion
None of the members own the tools needed Rent tools or contact Lonny Grafman
Having signs made would be expensive Contact Six Rivers Charter School for laser etched signs
Some green on the donated plywood Seal it with a non toxic zero VOC paint
Wood needs to be cut Contact Almquist Lumber of Lonny Grafman
Need a ladder Borrow a ladder from the client or HSU

Team[edit | edit source]

Wingineers. Spring 2021

References[edit | edit source]