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One of the nesting houses under construction.

New Works Sculpture Project: Bird Nesting Houses on the Woonasquatucket

Reclaiming Urban Dead Zones: The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and sculptor Will Machin collaborated on a project creating 19 nesting houses for American kestrels, screech owls and tree swallows. The organically formed sculptures, created through a traditional lime-masonry technique were installed the fall of 2005. The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council hopes the sculptures will bring more attention to the river and highlight the river's natural wildlife assets as well as reduce the population of rats, mice and mosquitoes that are the prey of choice for these birds! The funding for the project is coming from a Rhode Island Foundation New Works Grant.

Below is a log of the project, with photographs and notes by the artist.

Below are some pictures showing the very early stages of the project. As you can see, Will is picking up a wide variety of garbage from the parks and streets near the river.

Concrete pile near Delaine Street

Bottles near Delaine Street

Brick in Merino Park

June 10 - After the backs and bottoms are reinforced and ready to go, the process begins - you can see broken bricks like the ones pickled up at Merino Park, the broken concrete block building waste from a lot near Delaine street, and the small liquor bottles from along the river near Olneyville square getting incorporated into the structure.

May 31 - Check out the first stages of the process - building backs and bottoms from the stone waste from a stone cutting company in the watershed.

June 27, 2005 - Some of the nesting houses are starting to come together:

July 13, 2005 - The artist demonstrating his process to children at Donigian Park:

July 16, 2005 - Here are two more of the nesting houses:

August 29, 2005 - As the summer draws into the first tinges of fall, "Reclaiming Urban Dead Zones Through Sculpture" is nearing the end of the construction phase. Soon, on September 8, we will be having an opening at The Steelyard in Providence. Between now and then, here are a few pictures of some more of the nesting houses:

The residency at New Urban Arts on July 21 yielding a tree swallow house and fruitful conversations with staff, youth and people passing through. Thanks to those who brought materials and to the staff for housing the sculptures for a week.

Tell us if you see a bird using one of the houses! We are trying to track how birds use each of the nesting houses. So, if you see a bird using one of the houses please either call the Watershed Council office at (401) 861-9046 or drop us an email at alehrer@wrwc.org. If you know what kind of bird you saw, please let us know, but if you don't, just describe where the nesting house is located and what you saw the bird doing.


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