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Seabird Nest Program

Sustainable Clay Modules for Seabird Restoration

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Raven-proof ceramic homes for Ashy Storm-petrels in the Channel Island caves.

The collaborative Seabird Nest Program provides durable and sustainable nesting habitat for threatened seabirds, so they can breed successfully and we can learn about their behavior and ecology with less disturbance. To this end, our team of artists, designers and scientists creates and deploys customized “Ceramic Modules” for seabirds that breed underground in soil burrows, rock crevices, and caves.

As a conservation tool, artificial nests provide stability and safety in breeding colonies plagued by habitat degradation and loss. In particular, the nests are designed to mitigate the impacts of burrow collapse due to erosion and mortality from nest predators.

Justification: Many marine bird species are in critical need of protection to recover their populations

Flipbook showing solutions for Rhinoceros Auklet and Cassin’s Auklet nests.

Ceramic nest modules closely resemble natural seabird burrows and are more durable than plywood or plastic structures used elsewhere. Oikonos pioneered this conservation tool at Año Nuevo Island, CA and has since adapted it for seabirds on four islands. Since 2010, hundreds of seabirds have raised their chicks in clay nest modules.

Cassin's Auklet chick successfully raised in a ceramic nest on Ano Nuevo Island in 2016

Cassin’s Auklet chick successfully raised in a ceramic nest on Ano Nuevo Island in 2016

Innovations

  • Built entirely of clay: a durable and responsible material
  • Transportable by small boat and carried by hand
  • Un-crushable by seal or human trampling
  • Mimics natural burrow qualities
  • Durable life span 25+ years with no maintenance

 

 

 

In 2017, with CCA students we are designing for new challenges:

  • Keep cool in desert and sub-tropical climates (Mexico, Hawaii)
  • Exclude cats from the nest cavity (for shearwaters and small petrels)

Videos of the Program’s accomplishments on Año Nuevo Island:

Contact

Project Leaders: Michelle Hester, Jessie Beck, Ryan Carle, Dave Calleri

Partners

A core element of Oikonos’ mission is to form partnerships with experts from diverse disciplines to create conservation solutions. For this reason, Oikonos is excited to continue its 5 year partnership with master ceramicist Nathan Lynch, designers from MoreLab, and students from California College of the Arts ENGAGE.

Designers & Artists:

Nathan Lynch is a master ceramicist and Chair of the Ceramics Program at California College of the Arts in  Oakland. As a sculptor and performance artist, Lynch has made collaboration and experimentation major components of his practice.

Matthew Passmore, the lead of MoreLab, creates innovative artworks, installations and experiences that examine our understanding of the social, political and ecological dynamics of public space.

Student Designers:

Three classes have been conducted at California College of the Arts to engage students in real world applications.

Island Partners:

Año Nuevo Island, California Department of Parks and Recreation, Año Nuevo State Reserve

Orizaba Rock and Bat Caves, Channel Islands National Park

Funded & Supported by

  • Luckenbach and Command Oil Spill Trustee Councils, NOAA Restoration Center
  • The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation
  • Bently Foundation
  • Go Native
  • Patagonia Santa Cruz
  • Rebar Group

 

Master Ceramicist Nathan Lynch working on novel seabird nests with his students at California College of the Arts in Oakland.

Master Ceramicist Nathan Lynch working on novel seabird nests with his students at California College of the Arts in Oakland.