Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Chicago Park District and partners today honored the winning entries of the Tweet Home Chicago Bird House Design and Build Competition at the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT).
The competition is designed to increase awareness about the importance of bird habitat restoration and improvement for Chicago’s avian population. Tweet Home Chicago is a partnership of the City, Chicago Park District and the Chicago Bird Agenda working group.
“This is a wonderful example of how the public and private sectors can work together to benefit our city. It is also just one part of Chicago’s overall effort to protect the environment and improve the quality of life for not only residents, but the wildlife that shares our great city,” said Mayor Daley.
Over 130 bird houses were entered in the competition with over 300 adults and youth participating in teams. The City estimates that more than 300 bird houses were built as part of the competition, but participating schools only chose the top bird houses to enter into the competition.
Select houses will be displayed at high-profile public venues, installed near Chicago Park District field houses, or auctioned to raise money for bird conservation efforts in the city.
Professional and novice designers, carpenters, artists and students submitted original designs. Participants were encouraged to build houses for one of eight species that nest in cavities in Chicago. Houses were judged on functionality, suitability, use of sustainable materials, and aesthetics.
“This competition shows how many green spaces throughout Chicago can serve as important habitat for birds,” said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the Department of Environment. “By improving or creating bird habitat in backyards and neighborhood parks, we can also achieve other goals, such as stormwater management and site cooling.”
The Tweet Home Chicago panel of judges included esteemed professionals from the design, art, and conservation fields. Judges included Theaster Gates (University of Chicago), Terry Guen (Terry Guen Design Associates), Donnie Dann (Bird Conservation Network), and Sarah Dunn (UrbanLab).
The National Audobon society has designated more than 7700 acres of Chicago parkland and 26-miles of lakefront as an Important Birding Area.
Chicago is a great city for birds. Chicago is home to over 80 native species of birds and serves as a resting stop for millions of migrating birds every spring and fall. Those birds that call Chicago “home” find habitat and food in the city’s parks, river ways, lakeshore, street trees, and backyards. Birds are an important part of the web of life -- controlling insect populations and other pests, pollinating flowers and bringing nature into people’s lives.
“Protecting wildlife and providing conservation areas make Chicago a shining example of how a large city can live in harmony with its environment and be a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Mayor Daley.
Chicago has four bird sanctuaries on the lakefront, including McCormick Bird Sanctuary in Burnham Park; Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Lincoln Park; and Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary (Wooded Island) in Jackson Park.
To protect migrating birds further, Chicago was one of the first North American cities to urge a “Lights Out” program, enlisting building owners and managers to turn off lights to protect the 8 million birds that migrate through the City.
The Tweet Home Chicago partners include the Chicago Department of Environment, Chicago Park District, Audubon Chicago Region, Bird Conservation Network, Chicago Public Schools, Friends of the Chicago River, Nature House, Inc., ReBuilding Exchange, Thirst and Moving Design, UrbanLab, and the U.S. Green Building Council.
All 130 bird houses were on display at the Awards Ceremony at CCGT and available for viewing on the Tweet Home Chicago flickr site: flickr.com/photos/tweethomechicago. A number of the bird houses will remain on display at CCGT throughout the summer while others can be seen at Chicago Park District locations including the SouthShoreCulturalCenter and Lincoln Park, as well as the Chicago Architecture Foundation.