I grew up with bird nerds. My mother and my aunt are lifelong, avid birders who get up before dawn to participate in bird counts, and who excitedly talk about seeing “life birds.” I never realized, until adolescence, that such things were not typical of all families, and that the Audubon Field Guide was not required reading for most children. I remember visiting a friend and, upon spotting a great blue heron in the park, pointing and shouting, “Look! GBH!” Not only did she have no idea what I was talking about, she edged slowly away from me while looking around to make sure no one was staring at us.
While my childhood may have been a bit birdier than most, keeping bird feeders and bird houses is not unusual; it is a favorite hobby of many in urban, suburban and rural areas. It has also provided a ripe opportunity for 3D printed creativity. 3DPrint.com has written about several interesting avian homes in the past, including a birdhouse that changes colors when occupied, and weatherproof birdhouses that hold up in harsh winters much better than my mother’s wooden and plastic birdhouses ever did. Earlier this year, we covered a recent trend in urban bird nests, part of an effort to revitalize urban areas as well as to replenish the dwindling bird populations within cities. Simple and sleek, these 3D printed nests are highly practical for apartment-dwellers, and provide much-needed shelter and food for birds whose habitats have been taken over by human construction.
Then there are the summer homes, if you will.
A German Thingiverse user named Christoph Daubner, aka CrackBaron, has designed a luxury home for birds, complete with shutters and a porch with Greek columns.
He used an Ultimaker 2 printer to print the house in several pieces, which were then glued together and painted. Looking for something fun to do with the kids on a rainy day, or wanting to modernize the old shop class staple? Daubner’s design can be downloaded from Thingiverse, with simple instructions:
“The Print is very easy, simply print all the .stl-files,” he says. “I printed everything without support and raft. Layerhigh 0.1 mm (but this will take a lot of time)
After that, you need to glue them together on two pieces of wood.
Now you can make everything nice smooth and paint it.”
Or try your own variation – how about a bird condo, or a Southern Gothic-style mansion?
Daubner’s gallery also includes a print of his own home, so why not create a birdhouse modeled on your home? I personally love the idea of combining the urban-nest idea with a fancier design; imagine visiting a city and seeing miniaturized versions of the local landmarks with birds dwelling in them. It may be kitschy, but sometimes creative, fun touches like that are exactly what a growing downtown area needs.
3D printing has done some truly groundbreaking and life-changing things in the fields of medicine, construction, robotics and more. Sometimes, however, it can just be purely fun.