The goal of this project is to create a bird house of mostly natural materials that can be installed into a permaculture design for supporting the attraction of wild birds onto the landscape.
This project has been designed and created by Florence Nickerson and Patrick Spahr, in October 2010, at Maharishi University of Management, Sustainable Living Department, for the Permaculture Design certification course.
Step 1: Design
We began with a rough sketch in the back of a notebook in order to create a conceptual design. We quickly agreed this was the right design approach for the project we intended to create.
Then the idea was presented to our professor who approved the project.
Step 2: Raw Materials
This design is built using Iowa prairie grasses, low, woody prairie shrubs, and twigs harvested from a miscellaneous tree along a trail-side.
Two arm-fulls of the above materials will suffice for this project.
Also used are jute and cotton twines that will eventually degrade and drop/return the birdhouse into the earthen landscape. Also used was a heavy gauge button sewing thread for tying off spoke & wheel supports. See steps for more detail.
Scissors, pruning shears.
(Glue shown in photograph was not used in this project.)
Step 3: Materials Prep
Begin by sorting your raw materials into separate piles of the different varieties of plants and then strip leaves off tree branches and any small shoots off the limbs. Cut stronger branches into 9 inch sticks; you need about 20. Cut smooth, thinner branches into 12 inch sticks; you need about 35.
Step 4: Foundation Base
Begin by cutting the prairie shrubs into equal lengths. Then start by making the outer frame; a square shape was chosen for this design, and securely tying off the corners using jute. This is done by casting on twine onto first branch and inserting sticks at regular 1/2" intervals. Secure cross sticks by overlapping first row of twine using "x" stitch.
Step 5: Foundation/Base Construction
After the outside dimension of the base is securely tied, begin weaving the inner supports to make the floor for your house. Leaving approximately 1 inch border around the frame, continue weaving flexible sticks in an over and under fashion until you have a 12 X 12 square. Weave thinner sticks to fill any large gaps in floor. Use slip knots to secure all intersecting ends.
Step 6: Build the Wall
22" length of thin branches trimmed to 9" in length (for 9" wall height) joined by threading cotton twine over and under and back and forth. The cotton twine is one continuous length of twine, i.e., was not cut.
Step 7: Wall Construction
Raise wall and secure ends to make a cylinder shape. To support and reinforce wall, a spoke and wheel was constructed using 4 sticks securely tied at the center. Insert spoke and wheel support on the top at various intersections of wall and secure with jute.
Step 8: Attach the Floor
Connect floor to wall with door side up. Begin inserting and arranging sticks from walls into the natural "holes" in the floor. This will take contemplative arranging to keep the walls rounded and relatively straight, with full expansion of house. Next use jute to connect and pull floor taut to walls in an reinforcing "x" fashion. (see photo).
Step 9: Add Roof and DONE!
Before building roof, it might be a good time to add wire or other material to hang birdhouse.
Using 4 12 inch sticks, tie together to resemble a tee-pee, and secure to top of wall for roof frame reinforcement. Build thatch roof using grasses, which are tied at the top and fanned for coverage. Add grasses as creatively needed to complete coverage for protection and enjoyment of the birdies!