BIRDHOTELS for BIRDS, INSECTS and OTHER SMALL ANIMALS...

 

Preface by the editors:

Flora cannot exist without Fauna. No green without insects and birds... that's a reality often neglected even by green professionals.That's why we were very pleased to find an artist who regards this as a challenge for his work. Hans Eijkenboom creates objects for both: form and function for plants, insects and birds - and he is aware of the continued change of his objects by use. Even more: the construction of these art objects and at the same time object of living nature is a shared activity with residents. A new form of art in public space!

 

What are birdhotels?

Birdhotels consist of several nesting boxes for various animals. I combine existing concepts. I also have added my own inventions. The objects are made for birds, insects, bats, butterflies and other, useful not harmful, small animals. I call them "Bird Hotel" but they are not just for birds.

In these constructions will animal find nesting space, materials, food and water. The structures are nearly six meters (19,7 feet) high and anchored in the soil for strength (in concrete). The basic construction - from wooden beams - is relatively straightforward and provides a solid frame work for the objects that gets a place in it. There are now three different Birdhotels built in The Hague in the Netherlands. 

 

Both: Art objects and Projects of Nature

The Birdhotels are a mix of Objects of Nature and Artworks. My aim is to create an artificial habitat where little (useful) animals can survive and reproduce in the middle of a city, in an environment with just a few trees and shrubs. I want residents and users become aware of animals in their habitat and enjoy the Birdhotels. My intention is to create interesting and aesthetic (art)works that, unlike most artworks, are not static but always changing.
 

Birdhotels have no fixed shape. A Birdhotel is a concept which shape is determined by the location where it is built and the specific needs of users and local residents. Therefore each Birdhotel can look very differently from the others. Because I want to achieve sustainability and to preserve nature, I use as much as possible recycling materials.

Existing Work

The first Birdhotel was built from the trunk of a large old poplar tree which was cut down to make space free for new buildings. The trunk was removed and was, a little further on, placed back into the ground. This gave me the opportunity to create a nature / art object and at the same time gave nature the possibility to recover and to regain that what was lost by the the cu. For the Birdhotels I built later, after this first one, I made a wooden framework, on which I could affix various objects.

To work on the highest possible level, I contacted experts in the field of biology, ornithology and conservation. These contacts are very positive about my nature projects and I've got a lot of useful advice from them, which I used in these projects. I also stay in touch with the internationally scene through various websites and social networking.

In part, the projects are 'terra incognita', because some of the objects and combinations of objects are experimental. The main components of the hotels, the animals and plants, are living matter. This means that the objects are constantly changing and therefore always need adjustments. If something does not appear to work, I work out other technical solutions. There always arise great opportunities to investigate new possibilities. This way I learn a lot and the Birdhotels are still getting better. There are many new ways that can be looked forward for and I have many ideas for new objects and improvements of existing ones.
Hopefully I can build many more nature objects so that this development can continue.

 

Own inventions and new work

One of my ideas is for example to combine a sparrow nest box with a insect nesting box. Own inventions are for example the food silos and reservoirs. A food silo ensures that there will be always food present at the Birdhotels. On the feeding tables, people can provide food themselves. The silos are made of used materials such as PVC drainpipe or plastic trays from the supermarket. The food is protected by a grille so it is only accessible for small birds. Pigeons, Gulls and Jackdaws are excluded

The sloping roof on top of some Birdhotels has a aesthetic function and works as a water collector for the water reservoir. It leads rainwater through a gutter and drainpipe to the reservoir. In the bottom of the reservoir, that is made of a bucket or big flowerpot, a dripper is constructed allowing water to drip slowly in a birdbath below it. Thus ensuring the presence of rainwater even after it is dry for a while. The drainpipe on the other side of the sloping roof leads water to the inside of the construction to provide water to plants there. For this purpose I have made a hole in the roof so the rainwater can come through.

The construction will accommodate  approximately 25 to 30 nesting boxes and other objects. The structure is simple and functional and is made as open as possible In order to let climbers take over the inside. The base is a square of about 1x1 meters and it is nearly six meters high. By letting the inside completely overgrow with plants, the opportunities for birds and other animals to find shelter, food, nesting material and nesting space will expand enormously. For the climbers I built a structure of beams and wire mesh over the entire length of the structure.

 
 

Contact and cooperation with residents

There is much enthusiasm for these projects but it remains difficult to finances the building of more of them. Understanding and enthusiasm for the Birdshotels increases when you are capable to implicate people in these projects. I see contact with users and residents and there involvement as an very important part of the whole existence of a Birdhotel. In order to achieve this cohesion I speak regularly with users and write articles about the developments of the Hotels and plan exhibitions and give lectures about the projects. I also keep track of the developments through the website vogelhotel.org. The responses are very positive. I also see opportunities for jet more extensive participation by users and residents in the projects, possibly by letting them having a voice in the design of the structures and to stimulate there involvement on the building of the construction and the making of the objects and the maintenance of them.

Current situation

Now - a few years after building the first Birdhotel - the results concerning the wildlife are very encouraging. Every nesting seasons birds have used the Hotels. Birds also make ample use of the food supplies. Only the bat boxes and butterfly boxes are not well attended. The insects boxes in some Birdhotels are very well used. The plants have grown up now so they attract more animals and the structures look better and the objects have a more natural feel, they are now more beautiful and more functional. Bird Hotels are living and continuously changing Works of Art and therefore require persistent efforts to maintain them and develop them further. The constant emergence of new life, the growing and life in these structures, but also the decay and breaking down of parts make these objects into living Art and makes them something special.

For more information: http://www.vogelhotel.org