A new-ish do-gooding addition to the additive manufacturing scene comes to us via Printed Nest, a community of makers who have harnessed perpetually evolving 3-D printing technology as a means of fostering — or luring back — urban bird populations: small, city-dwelling birds that are at risk taking flight the suburbs (aka the Land of Milk and Suet Cakes) where the available real estate is leafier and free meals are easier to come by.
Printed Nest’s solution takes the form of an antlered ovoid that could best be described as the lovechild of a traditional window- or wall-mounted bird feeder and faux taxidermy. Completely open-source and customizable, Printed Nest’s brightly hued avian buffets, now in experimental beta production mode, are printed with PLA-based bioplastic. In addition to being biodegradable, they’re also stylish which, as you know, is sure to appeal to those notoriously highfalutin city birds that are totally fine with pecking through garbage but wouldn’t be caught dead resting upon non-antler-shaped perches.
Since they're open-source, Printed Nest’s creations can be downloaded gratis and self-printed by those who own — or have access to — a 3-D printer. With this option, users can choose their own colors schemes and make tweaks to the original design as they see fit.
Or, there’s a pre-printed option available through Printed Nest’s online store. Seeds, an instruction manual and the detachable antler-perch or all included along with the feeder unit itself. Although Printed Nest’s inventory of already-printed-for-you fourth-generation bird feeders appear to be sold out at the moment, prices, listed in euros (they’re produced in the Czech city of Brno) start at about $65.
Mounting, at least at this stage in the design, is achieved through double-sided adhesive dual-lock tape although new mounting solutions, along with other aspects of the feed itself, are constantly being tweaked and experimented with.
As part of its overall mission to lend a helping hand (wing?) to declining urban bird populations, Printed Nest is asking those who download — or buy — a feeder to tag themselves on an interactive community map. Thus far, there are 95 Printed Nest bird feeders (roughly half open-source projects, half produced by Printed Nest) spread out across 72 cities in 23 different countries. While a majority of the cities listed thus far are in and/or around Bratislava, Prague and environs, there’s also a modest but growing amount of Printed Nest bird feeders popping up in the U.S. as well.
On that note, even the National Audubon Society has taken note of these super-cheery urban bird hang-outs. “There is not too much nature here in cities — that's why we wanted to bring it back,” explained Brno-based designer Radim Petruska to Audubon back in September when the project was in its third itineration. And while she doesn’t offer any specific commentary on the singular design of the feeders, Emma Greig of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's FeederWatch program does note that it’s best suited for house sparrows, house finches and European starlings.
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