Students design and build bird blind, start clubApr 27, 2010
It’s not every day that architecture students start a bird-watching club, but that’s what Miami University senior Max Streeter and four other architecture majors did. And that’s just the start of it.
Streeter and juniors Josh Carson, Alex Fritz, Nick Irmen and Jared White are building a bird blind (an out-of-sight viewing stand) on Miami’s natural areas. Streeter said the bird club is the perfect way to meld bird enthusiasm and the structure.
“We really wanted to get other people involved in bird watching in association with this structure,” Streeter said.
The students designed the bird blind, secured funding and materials and are constructing it themselves.
The club received funding for things like a trip to a bird sanctuary, binoculars and CDs with bird sounds.
The blind is shaped like a reverse question mark and will be surrounded by feeders, birdhouses and plants that attract birds. Three benches will be placed inside, and there will be a panoramic window at eye height from the benches. In addition to viewing birds, people will also be able to watch horses. There is an elevated area that can be used as a classroom space. It will include a circular ring of seating and more plants.
“I think it’s multi-use now,” Carson said.
The students finished the design in the first half of the semester and started construction two weeks after spring break. They visited a few bird blinds for influence, but decided they wanted to deviate from the usual box shape.
“We definitely wanted to make this our own,” Streeter said. “We wanted to make it unique.”
“Those five guys that are doing this project are super,” said Hardy Eshbaugh, professor emeritus of botany and president of the Miami Valley Audubon Society. “They really have their act together. They each bring a different talent to this project.”
Eshbaugh has helped with funding. The local Audubon chapter gave the students about $2,000 from its TogetherGreen grant.
“It looked like an ideal thing for us to fund,” Eshbaugh said.
The Oxford Community Foundation and Elizabeth Wakemen Henderson Charitable Foundation also provided grants. George Steel Fabricating Inc. provided steel plates, which Streeter estimated were worth about $3,500. Gillman Home Center gave the students a big discount on lumber and bolts.
Miami’s natural areas gave $2,000 from its budget to provide plants to surround the bird blind. Members of the local Audubon chapter have also donated plants.
“It’s really been a community effort here and in the Cincinnati area to get all the parts,” Streeter said.
A structure dedication will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, April 30, adjacent to the Dewitt Cabin. The site can be reached by going east on state Route 73 and turning left just after crossing the Four Mile Creek Bridge. Drive along the gravel lane over the Harker's Run Bridge past the Dewitt Cabin and park.
Jack Keegan, Miami’s greenhouse manager and instructor of botany, said there will be a few plants for the dedication April 30, but fall is typically the best time to plant.
“We talked about the idea of actually landscaping for attracting wildlife,” he said. “With it being in the natural areas it has to be … as natural as possible.”
Dave Russell, lecturer in zoology, provided early critiques of designs.
Jim Reid, field manager of Miami’s natural areas, recommended the bird blind when Streeter originally wanted to build a structure by the trails. Reid helped the team network.
“It’ll be one more feature in the natural areas that students and the community and young children can experience birds in close proximity,” he said. “Once they do that they’ll be hooked.”