Are Green Roofs for the Birds?

July 16, 2010 by

Bluebird House from Sustainable Pet Design

If green roofs are good enough for chickens, why not for birds, and maybe dogs? They’re eco-friendly, offer insulation, and and offer a stylish design element to your garden when you are feathering your nest:

de Castelli Flower Pot Birdhouse

The O-Nest-O combo flower pot and bird house (above) let’s you, er, kill two birds with one stone.

And just so the dogs won’t be jealous of the birds:

de Castelli’s Dog-e house for, you guessed it.

Sustainable Pet Design’s green roof dog houses provide a number of benefits:

• insulation against weather and sound
• filters runoff water that can later be used for drinking water
• filters dust and particle matter to provide cleaner air

green roof bird house via

Swedish birds are provided green roof insulation (above) at the Augustenborg Botanical Roof Garden in Malmö, Sweden–the world’s first botanical roof garden, located atop the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute. Situated within a residential neighborhood atop industrial buildings, the extensive roof garden is designed as both a demonstration garden and a research garden, testing various plants, engineered soils, and water runoff. The research is ongoing and test gardens reflect different green roof systems by various designers.

Photo from Gardener’s World

An attractive living, green roof encourages wildlife to visit your garden. The best plants to use for green roofs on your bird table are sedums, as they can withstand drought and grow in poor soil. Try using ready-made sedum matting, which you cut to size and roll out.


How to Make Your Own Green Roof Bird House
1. Measure the roof of your bird house and cut some plastic sheeting to fit over it–this will act as a waterproof membrane. Secure it over the roof with galvanised tacks.
2. Cut the water-retentive matting to fit over the plastic sheeting and fix it to the roof of the bird house with galvanised tacks.
3. Use a saw to divide the timber batten into four pieces–one for each slope of the roof. Cut one end of each piece at a 45? angle so they fit neatly together at the apex of the roof. Drill some pilot holes into the timber, then screw the battens in place.
4. Use a craft knife to cut the sedum matting to size, then lay it over the roof of the bird house.
5. Sprinkle the sedum mat with a slow-release fertilizer and water.
via Gardener’s World

Kinsman Company’s $39.95 green roof bird house

Kinsman Company offers a green roof bird house of rot-resistant western red cedar hand-crafted at their warehouse in Tillamook, Oregon. The roof tray is 1 3/4″ deep. You begin by soaking the wood well with water, then filling the roof tray with moist potting mix. Choose a selection of sedums and hardy succulents, or sow quick growing grass seed. Mosses grow well in shady locations.

Tom Dukich’s contemporary designs consider style while at the same time focusing on attracting specific birds. His Museum Birdhouse, according to the designer, is designed to attract nuthatches, chickadees, wrens, swallows, and other small birds that will use a nest box. Larger birds like the common House Sparrow (old world Weaver Birds) are discouraged by the 1-1/4 inch entrance hole size.

Tom Dukich Modern Bird Houses

Unfortunately, says Dukich, the smaller entrance hole also discourages desired birds like certain swallows and bluebirds.

“This resourceful, spunky bird, adapted to living around humans, thrives in even in our biggest cities. Unpopular with some people (partly because it may compete with native birds), this sparrow is undeniably interesting to watch, and it adds a spark of life to urban settings that would be almost birdless without it. Male has black bib, white cheeks, gray crown, chestnut nape. Female, also attractive with a close look, with pale buff eyebrow, plain gray chest, strips of black and buff on brown back. Voice: variety of chirping and chattering notes.”
Kenn Kaufman in Birds of North America, p. 336.

If you can’t manage to live in a classic contemporary house, perhaps your fine feathered friends can. Raumhochrosen’s functional architectural replicas for the birds could use some green roof planting, maybe a few trees.

Raumhochrosen Bird Houses available through the designers here.

We’re all multi-taskers, which is one reason I love multi-functional design. Now, I’m not sure you can really turn this one over and use the shovel–certainly if there’s a bird in it–but I had to include Jan Habraken’s whimsical bird house from Unica Home just for the cool factor:

Made of bright red powder coated metal mounted to an extra solid shovel, it should withstand the seasons, so you and the birds can enjoy it all year.

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