JAY DAY is an experiment in shifting the focus of a balcony from a human-centered space to one more inclusive of urban wildlife. It is a prototypical garden that reimagines the balcony as an urban jay habitat to encourage visitors to consider integrating live plants into their bird-feeding regime and focusing the resources they provide on non-typical feeder species. It repositions the potential of a tiny space to interweave utility for humans, birds and insects.
It is meant to inspire anyone to transform their own balcony into a birdy sanctuary, and will be showcased at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show 2022.
If we just take a closer look at our urban dwellings, we can readily find seemingly ‘wild’ species all around us.
Shall we invite them to our balcony?
Our main client is the shy and clever Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius), via a homeowner who wants to share a little bit of their space back to nature. Eurasian jays are gregarious yet rather shy birds, occurring abundantly in urban settings but relatively unseen. They flock in groups and fly from tree to tree, preferring to remain in the upper canopy of tree, as they hop from parks to gardens to, potentially, balconies.
They are also an incredible ecological engineer. They are credited for sowing millions of the seeds that generate English woodlands by caching nuts on the ground and in various crevices and then forgetting to retrieve them. Or perhaps they are also gardening, just like us - who can say!
A single Jay hoard as many as 2,000 acorns during one autumn season.
JAY's Garden Use Patterns compared to that of the Magpie in UK
Distribution Map of JAY in UK
Balcony is where the interior living environment and the exterior natural environment collide.
Let’s maximize this interplay with layering.
--- Horizontal Layers. ---
Shading structure replicates a woodland canopy, providing shelter for Jay, and flexible scaffolding for hanging various elements.
Grate paving hovers above of the planting to give access to humans while allowing plants access to sunlight and rainfall. Raised area allows for seating.
Edge-to-edge planted floor enables the foundation to host incredible biodiversity in a balcony setting. Raised topography adds soil depth for more substantial planting.
||| Vertical Layers. |||
Window functions to provide the first lookout towards nature, allowing for passive engagement from within.
Accessories, such as bird feeder, snag for nut caching, nesting materials offering, perch..etc. add diverse utilities.
Railing not only serves as bird perch, but also as structure to hold insect hotels, farthest away from human resident.
We strive to test the idea that no space is too small to host an incredibly diverse wildlife.
What would this look in a 10m² balcony?
The design features various DIY elements, offering utility and points of interaction between the various users of the balcony. Pattern design, thematically based on each user, has been utilized for visual interest and to communicate the identities of each of the corresponding users on the balcony.
Acorn Cache Snag
Incorporating more beautiful decaying matter in our garden spaces is beneficial to wildlife and we believe a sculptural snag does just that even in a balcony setting. Eurasian jay has been found to cache nuts amongst the deep crevices of tree barks. So why not provide them with a pre-drilled hole-y acorn storage cabinet while also adding a touch of whimsical artful element?
Nest Materials Offering
Bubbling Water/Bird Bath
Lighting element can extend the usability of the Balcony space into darker hours, but must be shaded or point down to prevent interference with migrating birds.
A tasteful way to add well-integrated utility in a small balcony space, with which one can hang their laundry or balcony blanket.
Here are some downloadable resources for you to try some of the JAY DAY project elements in your own balcony!
DIY Ceramic Bird Feeder Template
We selected the Jay as a charismatic example species to reimagine the incredible biodiversity even the tiniest balcony can host, but this design can be adapted to various other species. When selecting your target species, consider the connection your space has to the larger landscape, and picture your space in the eyes of that bird:
what do I need, who are my predators, and where would I be coming from?
SWAROVSKI OPTIK is a proud sponsor of JAY DAY. It has been a trailblazer in the field of consumer optics. We believe their product range of binoculars and field scopes helps bring nature even closer in view. Check out their social media for birding tips and product guides!