July 1, 2015

Spherik Smart BirdHouse: A User-Centered Design Process

I think I’ve mentioned before to some of you that I like birds?  So when I heard about Liberty’s “Happy Bird” contest I was excited!  I’ve had the chance now to be here through autumn, winter, spring, and summer and each season brings different wildlife residents.  Just today I saw tadpoles in our little pond.  Working late the other night I met an upstanding hedgehog family patrolling for dinner.  Being able to enjoy green and wildlife at the office is such a treasure and a great benefit of being at Liberty.Taking up the Happy Birds challenge, we considered carefully:  what would make birds happy?  First we had to think of which birds we were targeting.  With more than 10 species of birds making their home here, all with different needs, this required some research.  We finally settled on targeting vrabie (sparrows) and blackbirds (mierla) due to their proclivity for nesting in houses, their high population at Liberty, and their similar space requirements and other needs.  What are the biggest problems of a nesting bird?  Predators.  Bird life can be hard—with all manner of rodents and other birds taking any opportunity to make a breakfast of your eggs.  With that in mind, we sized the entrance hole to be attractive to them but not so large as to invite unwanted guests.  We also placed the entrance off-center, leaving a longer distance between babies and any grabby predator.  The birdhouse has no exterior perch so as not to give predators a place to hang on to.  For that same reason we used a slick exterior finish.  The paints are child-safe, so any flakes that come off should not harm our guests.  We were careful to include proper ventilation and drainage, so the future residents could breathe fresh air and so the house […]