Kuş Evi: The outer walls of houses should be bird houses
July 30, 2017 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Turkey has a long history, dating back to at least the 13th century, of adding bird houses to even the most important buildings, believing that feeding and housing birds pleases God -- even mosques often have tiny, spectacular stone bird-mansions. (via This Is Colossal)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (17 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
That's so cool! Thanks for sharing, Eyebrows! :)

The bird mansions really are something else, in particular.
posted by mordax at 7:53 PM on July 30, 2017

You had me at spectacular stone bird-mansions.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:20 PM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I really really like this but I also really really hate pigeons.

Very torn right now.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2017

I knew about the cats (and they were hard to miss) but this is just another reason for me to go back and visit Turkey again!

(Is this third link intended to go here?)
posted by invokeuse at 9:28 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, thanks, I fixed it!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:38 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

One marker of local geography in Egypt is how the construction and style of pigeon houses changes dramatically from region to region (Egyptians eat a lot of pigeons!). In Cairo, where just about every other building seems to have a pigeon tower at the top, they are spindly wooden towers that sprout out of the brickwork, with the actual dovecot kind of a squat wooden box decorated with green and yellow diamonds. In the desert oases, they are round clay towers several stories high with flat thatched roofs. And in the Nile delta they are dramatic, white painted conical towers often arranged in symmetrical groups, pierced with entrance holes and perch sticks. Another style, which I don't remember seeing myself, are apparently the little domed dovecots of upper Egypt.
posted by jackbrown at 9:40 PM on July 30, 2017 [19 favorites]

Is @probirdrights aware of this?
posted by ZaphodB at 9:51 PM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've spent the five years I've had the house into making it as bee and bird friendly as I can be, which is just one of the reasons the new kittens s are not allowed out. My library, which used to be the dining room, but we like books more than tables, has a big tryptic window with feeders, and from sunrise to nighttime whiperwills, it's a constant bird show. Blue jays and cardinals, and about ten breeds of finches, and barn swallows, and just recently, a breeding pair of ring doves decided to settle down in the pecan trees. I'm spending a fortune feeding the squirrels who steal the peanuts and raisins, but they're almost as much fun as the birds.

Man, between the food, the cats, and the birds, I think Turkey may be my mothership.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:55 PM on July 30, 2017 [12 favorites]

posted by praemunire at 11:06 PM on July 30, 2017

I really really like this but I also really really hate pigeons.

Kedi (trailer)

A beautifully-shot documentary that tracks the stories of seven cats that live on Istanbul’s streets, Kedi reveals a city's humanity, the unique relationship between humans and cats, and warms the heart. It is a love letter to cats and their city.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:14 PM on July 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

I approve of these initiatives.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 3:18 AM on July 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

I must confess that I've never entertained feelings of any sort towards the Ottomans, but that has now changed and now I am thinking I like these folks. A lot. Thank you!
posted by kinnakeet at 5:27 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Had never heard of this and I really like it. Thx Eyebrows!
posted by widdershins at 6:25 AM on July 31, 2017

Wonderful post!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:00 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Aw, thank you for this post--the kuş evleri are one of my favorite things in Istanbul. I have a couple of great little books about them; but alas none are available in translation as far as I know. I used to live about 5 minutes' walk from the two mosques featured in most of the photos in the "stone bird-mansions" link (Ayazma and Yeni Valide) and I so miss seeing them on a near-daily basis while walking through the courtyards on the way to the ferry or over the hill. My favorite might be this one on Yeni Valide, which is not a bird mansion so much as a bird mosque, complete with minarets.

The stone ones on the mosques are mostly not for pigeons (although pigeon-houses/dovecots are common in Turkey as well)--they are mostly proportioned for much smaller birds, and I think it was usually sparrows and swallows and finches and such that I'd see in them.

Also, yes, Kedi is excellent (even if the cats it features--also frequently and lovingly sheltered on mosque grounds--are presumably predators to the residents of the bird palaces....)
posted by karayel at 9:26 PM on August 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Neat, never heard of this before but I love it. We nailed a birdhouse to our house wall after we had to cut down our big tree, so I kind of understand where the Ottomans were coming from. Birds are delightful neighbors!
posted by Quietgal at 8:11 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wonder if this got started as a defensive maneuver? I had an ongoing problem with birds nesting on top of the sliding door track of barn door on my shop. This was annoying because every time I slid the door open nest building material would rain down.

Then a couple years ago I had the brain storm to provide a bird house right next to the door in the hopes the birds would prefer that space. And it worked. Happy birds and no more grass showers.
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 PM on August 3, 2017

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