Northumbria University students design new bird feeders
It's safe to say there will be quite a few bemused birds at a Tyneside beauty spot today. They will be confronted with more than 80 bird feeders and nest boxes in the trees at Pets’ Corner and Millfield visitor centre in Jesmond Dene in Newcastle.
The feeders and boxes have been created by students on Northumbria University’s design for industry courses.
They have worked with a pet foods and products company to come up with varied and innovative designs.
The feeders have been stocked with food to see which pulls in the birds while visitors to Pets’ Corner – and prospective customers for the products – can also pass judgement.
The serious side of the business is that the wild bird food and products market in the UK is worth around £350m a year.
Northumbria University is working with Cranswick Pet Products and the parks and countryside service of Newcastle City Council on the design project.
The students’ designs will be on show in the dene until Wednesday.
Simon Scott-Harden, senior lecturer on the design for industry course, said: “Not only will the public be able to see the designs but the birds will also road-test them.
“The students have been looking at different styles for what is a very traditional product.
“These tend to be bought by people over 35 so by coming up with contemporary new styles we may be able to tap into a new market.”
Many of the designs have used sustainable materials, such as bamboo.
Ideas include nest boxes with interchangeable, differently-sized entrance holes so that they can by used by a variety of species.
“The students have also studied the ways in which different bird species feed,” said Simon.
This has led to designs for upside down feeders, and a bird’s mouth concept which screws on to a recycled plastic bottle.
When a bird lands on one part of the beak, it opens the “mouth” to give access to the food.
Other designs include flat packs which can be customised by the buyer and a feeder with a plug for use by older people who have difficulty with the usual twist-on feeder top.
Another idea is for an urban bird box which can be fitted to any building by councils and is easy to remove for cleaning.
A further concept is a bird food ordering system which provides the right mix for the species which are most commonly found in a particular postcode area.
Simon said: “There are some very professional designs would could go straight to market.”
Rachael Dickinson and Sam Marriage from Cranswick Pet Products judged the final products, with first place going to Joe Miller’s Flexifeeder, second was Calum Fovargue, with the Quill Bird House while Mark Smith was third with the Boomer Peanut Feeder.
Rachael, Cranswick marketing manager, said: “We were delighted when the university contacted us to be a part of this project as we are always looking for fresh new ideas to drive the wild bird market forward.
“The students’ concepts were presented to our research and development team and they were very impressed with the thought that had gone into the project and ideas that were generated.”
Rebecca Morgan, education and interpretation officer for the council’s parks and countryside service, said: “We are delighted to be working with Northumbria University by enabling the students to display their products to the public and test them in the real world.
“It will be fascinating to see how these innovative designs perform and how the wide range of birds found in the area will use them.”
Source: Journal Live