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Nesting & Perching Space

NORTH RONALDSAY Noup Cliffs Hlom  of  Papay WESTRAY

Castle of   Burrian



Costa Head ROUSAY

Marwick Head




Woodwick Binscarth

Scapa Flow







Bird watching spots in Orkney


Less disturbance and unspoilt environment, Orkney is a paradise for a wide range of wild animals and plants. It is specially reputed for its bird watching, where there are over 200 species of birds of prey, seabirds, inland birds, wading bird and ground nesting birds stay here all year round. As some species had suffered the decline in numbers because of climate change and other reasons, protection for these lovely animals becomes crucial, helping them to build their homes and to breed descendants is very important. Meanwhile, there is a scarce of lacking trees on the sweeping land, birds are often roosting on electrical wires or on roofs of folks’ houses. When they flock together in large groups, they sing a big volume song which sometimes could be a little noisy. Therefore, proposal about how to preserve bird’s colonies and at the same time find out solution of ‘treeless’ issue generated.

Species  Selec,on In this project, bird species is mainly focused on Starling from passerine group which includes more than half of all bird species, sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds. Starlings usually flocks together in a large number, reputed for its imitation ability of sounds. One of the commonest garden birds but its decline makes it on the Red list that need protection and conservation.

Starling General info: Latin name: Sturnus vulgaris Family: Starlings Description: -Similar to blackbirds but smaller. Short tail, pointed head, triangular wings, glossy with sheen of purples and greens -noisy and gregarious -one of the commonest garden birds, but in Red list.   Diet: Almost everything including insects and fruit, snails, worms, scraps, but feed only invertebrates to their young.   Distribution: Can be seen all year round; widespread in the UK, occurring everywhere except for the highest parts of the Scottish Highlands   Behavior: Starlings spend a lot of the year in flocks, huge roosts are found in plantations, reed beds and city centres.   Nesting: Starlings nest in holes and cavities, especially in trees, but often use holes in buildings, including occupied houses, and nest boxes and they nest in loose colonies. Conservation: Due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food, and nesting sites in many parts of the UK, the starling population has crashed by over 70% in recent years, they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.

Flock  Habit Starlings tend to roost in woodlands, but reed beds, cliffs, buildings and industrial structures are also used. They roost in places that are sheltered from harsh weather and predators. During the day, they form daytime roosts at exposed places such as treetops, where the birds have good all-around visibility. The number of starlings in a roost can swell to around 100,000 in some places, which forms one of the most incredible natural spectacles. They group together to keep safe and protect their numbers. Also they gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information.

Rela,on  With  People People can provide starlings nest sites and food by open farmland, erecting buildings, as starlings eat large numbers of invertebrates that many of which are crop pests, and in many countries, starlings are considered to be beneficial and encouraged with nest boxes.But during autumn and winter, large roost of starlings may cause the dropping of crops.

Tree-­‐like Structure

PROCESS 1   Three elements – “Trunks”

PROCESS 2   Three elements – “Branches”

PROCESS 3   Three elements – Nest boxes

PROCESS 4   Elasticity – Bird’s nests

Dimension The whole structure takes up 15mƱ space on the ground, and stretches up in the air about 3m in height.The lowest bird’s nest is 2m above the ground to avoid reaching from animals and humans. Structural elements have different sizes, “trunks” that grow out from the land are as thick as about 30mm in diameter for supporting; “branches” in horizontal direction are for connecting elements and for perching use of birds, which are about 15-20mm in diameter, so as to fit for grasping by claws. 30mm timber


15-20mm timber


N 10m






3m 2m







Sun  Path&   Prevailing  Wind The prevailing wind is from the south-west in Scotland, but it may blow from any direction for sustained periods of time, and the sun path is from south to east in a year. The benefit of gridding structure is that wind can easily pass through and lessen the influence of strong gusts towards it. Secondly, the principle of building a nest box has to avoid prevailing wind and direct sunlight, therefore the hole of a nest box is better to be facing northeast. N W E S

Weaver Bird’s   Nest  Studies   Weaver birds, or Ploceidae, are small passerine birds related to the finches, most of which are from Sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer species in tropical Asia. They get their name because of their elaborately woven nests (the most elaborate of any birds'), though some are notable for their selective parasitic nesting habits. The nests vary in size, shape, material used, and construction techniques from species to species. Materials used for building nests include fine leaf-fibers, grass, and twigs. Many species weave very fine nests using thin strands of leaf fiber. Many weaver species are gregarious and breed colonially. The birds build their nests together for protection. The weaver bird colonies may be found close to water bodies.

Thick billed  weaverbird     Suspended  in  reeds  and   bushes.   Solitary.

Yellow weaver     Suspended  from  reeds   or  trees.   Large  colonies.

Masked weaver     Suspended  from   reeds  or  trees.   Large  colonies.

Cape weaver     Hanging  from  trees  or  in   reeds  over  water  or  from   trees  away  from  water.     Small  colonies.

Spectacled weaver     Suspended  from  bushes   or  trees,  spout  o9en   longer.   Small  colonies.  

Forest weaver     Hanging  from  low  branches  in   forest  or  dense  bush.   Solitary  breeders  but  several   nests  o9en  present.

Brownthroated weaver     Suspended  from  reeds  or   bushes.   Solitary.

Golden weaver     Suspended  from   bushes,  trees  or   reeds.   Solitary.

Data  Comparison   Nest in reeds and bushes Thick billed weaver birds

Nest in holes and cavities, or take other birds’ nests Starlings

Males are about 18cm length

Size in length is about 20cm

Nest  Box   Starling requires big size nest box that the standard dimension is about 250-300mm in height, 150-180mm wide and approximately 150mm in depth, and the diameter of the hole is about 45mm. These nest boxes should be lifted 2m at least above the ground out of the reach of cats and people.



Composing  Way   Forming triangular and quadrangular shapes through crisscrossing rod pieces for nest boxes fit-in and creating small units, then by combining small units to generate a whole composing system.

Reeds Studies  


Reeds, rushes and sedges are perennial plants which grow in or near static or flowing water and on marshy ground. When growing in water, they are usually found in less than 1m depth. Most species have stout, creeping rhizomes from which round, hollow aerial shoots emerge in the spring, growing to a height from 2m to 4m (depending on the species) and dying back in the autumn.


Fishing net


To fasten the rod pieces, fishing net plays a role as “rhizome” linking the “trunk” elements in an morphological approach of reeds.

Explosion  Analysis   Nests

Rods (above ground & undergro und)

Ground level

Fishing net

Materials  The nest boxes are primarily made of ecological firm board from compressed plant fabrics like the straws,grass and other materials. The structural components are made of thin timber that are flexible while stiff enough to bend as well as to keep standing upright, and joint to each other by tied knots with heap rope, making the structure becomes an integral entirety that intimates with nature.

Loca,on  The structure is located in open field in Orkney, where food source and materials to build a nest can be provided to birds.

Physical Model  

Procedure 1

Procedure 2


Design by Zhao Xie

Nesting and Perching Space  
Nesting and Perching Space  

A proposal of sculptural structure in the landscape of Orkney for its birds, especially starlings. #landscapearchitecture #landscapedesign #...