Image Image Image Image Image

Seabird Nest Program

ceramic seabird shelters for
climate change adaptation

Objective: to provide durable and sustainable nesting habitat for threatened seabirds to foster successful breeding, minimize disturbance, and learn more about behavior and ecology. 

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.

Justification: Many marine bird species are in critical need of protection to recover their populations and adapt to environmental changes.

ASSP_modules_installed_CINP_top banner

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

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 ceramic nests.


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.


  • 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
  • Sun shields and other features to insulate from increasing temperatures
  • Durable life span 40+ years with no maintenance

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

Contact Project Leaders

Project 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 10 year partnership with master ceramicist Nathan Lynch and students from California College of the Arts.

Student Designers:

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

In Hawaii, the Windward Community College joined this collaboration to provide a local studio and students.

Designers & Artists:

Nathan Lynch is a master ceramicist and Chair of the Ceramics & Glass Programs 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.


Our Supporters & Funders

  • Honda Marine Science Foudation
  • Disney Conservation Fund
  • MoreLab, Matthew Passore
  • 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
Master Ceramicist Nathan Lynch working on novel seabird nests with his students at California College of the Arts in Oakland.