A Thousand Cranes


Birds want in on Toronto’s feverish condominium market

The Birdhouse on Rosemount Avenue

The Nesting Project

Birds are flocking to the environmentally green construction on Rosemount Avenue in the St. Clair Avenue West neighbourhood. Designed by Toronto artist and sculptor Alex Moyle, you’ll find it on the grassy knoll behind Oakwood Collegiate near the school’s worm-friendly field. It sits on a three-meter-high stand and reaches a height of six meters. The well-treed enclave is an ideal location for the urban bird looking for a place to call home.

Alex Moyle and his birdhouse

Alex Moyle

“I was very selective about trying to use the minimal synthetic materials,” Moyle says. “This is the kind of house I would like to live in.”

Amenities:birdhouse water tank

• two nesting boxes for sparrows and wrens
• three more nesting sites for solitary bees
• spacious interiors and communal areas
• shaded balcony
• a birdbath
• a passive solar water heater
• a rain barrel
• downspouts that direct water where needed

How It Works

The rain barrel collects water and redirects it to the garden below the birdhouse. It waters the flowering plants that draw in insects which become food for the birds. Other downspouts redirect water into the birdhouse so the birds can drink and bathe. The passive solar water heater, when connected, will heat the water in the interior birdbath because Moyle says, “No one wants to take a cold bath in the winter.” If needed, he’ll install a little hoist for the birds that have trouble carrying things up in their beaks. At night, the interior will be illuminated.

A Bird Brain for the Birdhouse

birdseye view of Alex Moyle

Inside, Moyle installed a little Arduino computer. He calls it “the bird brain” and it will manage the electricity from the solar panel and could potentially manage a little weather station. “We humans are new at the nesting game. We are still inventing it and modifying it. Whatever green technology is available,” Moyle insists, “the birds are going to have it all.”

People looking at birdhouse

A Little Something Extra

Moyle has outfitted the birdhouse with a ground-level viewing window. It’s a periscope which allows passersby to peep inside the birdhouse’s living area, several meters above the ground. He calls this space ‘the mystery room’. In addition, a tiny periscope protrudes from the side of the birdhouse so that birds can peer down at humans. Moyle hopes the periscopes will give humans and birds new insight into each other’s behaviour. In the future he plans to invite artists to create installations for the mystery room.

What’s Kids looking at birdhouseNext?

Phase II of the project – a nest that represents local human activity. Working with residents Moyle will collect work and hobby tools, such as a mason’s trowel and a baker’s rolling pin. He will weave them into a large multi-coloured nest. It will rise up next to the birdhouse, perched on a maple tree branch.

Photos by Elizabeth Cinello

*****     How did this project get accomplished? See
How the Birdhouse got Made.

*****     See more of Alexander Moyle’s work here.