birds in inner Melbourne

Subject: birds in inner Melbourne
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 13:55:39 +11EST
I am an artist & design academic developing an (unusual?) artwork for
the Melbourne Festival (mid October to early November) which will
involve the making of a large sculpture with approximately 750kilos of
bird seed (something like a giant birdy-bell).  It will be placed on grass at
the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets to be slowly (or quickly)
eaten away over the three week duration of the festival.  I expect it will
easily attract a lot of pigeons, and probably a bit of media attention.   I
plan to make a time elapse film capturing the birds eating away the

Interestingly enough I notice that Birds Australia ?Bird Week? coincides
with the festival.

I have a few queries which I hope readers of this list may be able to assist
me with, or be able to direct me further.

1.  I would like the sculpture to attract a range of birds if possible ?
particularly indigenous birds.  I plan to use a variety of seed ? pannicum,
millet, milo / sorghum, wheat and sunflower.  What birds do you think I
might expect to attract?   Any suggestions on how I might get the
pigeons to move aside and best attract indigenous birds (eg those
migrating at the time?)

I   believe that it is standard practice for birdy-bell manufacturers to use
    a diluted PVA glue (standard wood-working or craft glue) to bind
    together seed into larger shapes (casein for smaller shapes).  I am
    told that the PVA on the husk ?goes through as roughage?, or some
    birds eat only the seed kernal after de-husking it.  Can you offer - or
    advise me as to how I might  gain ? confirmation that PVA (poly-vinyl-
    acetate) will not have negative effects on birds who may encounter
    it.   I beleive it is the chloride in Vinyl (ie PVC - poly-vinyl-choride)
    which is the risk.

Thanks for your time, and hope you may be able to assist me.

Michael Douglas
Dept of Architecture and Design
RMIT University
please note change of contact numbers:

phone: +61 (0)3 9925 5326
fax:     +61 (0)3 9925 5342

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