Within the ‘Building for Biodiversity’ research project Jip Louwe Kooijmans was invited as an Inspirator on Thursday, January 15th 2015. Jip is a specialist on birds in the city and program coordinator at Birdlife Netherlands, an institution that next to organizing many activities for the improvement of birdlife gives away an annual ‘city bird prize’ to a municipality for excellent habitat improvement.
Jip is a well-known author, most recently for his book on ‘City Birds’ (stadsvogels) giving an overview of the species within the city, with references to building types, neighborhood character and maintenance suggestions. Other books by Jip are e.g. a guide to birds in the Netherlands (zakgids vogels) and a map for bird recognition (herkenningskaart vogels).
In his speech Jip stressed the importance of the presence of three key factors for birds in the city: places for nestling, hang-out and food. All three have to be present to create sustainable urban birdlife.
In the conversation with Jip a number of advantages for humans due to birds in the city were memorized: An added value to private housing property, the consciousness to know that you ‘do good’ when providing habitat for birds, the direct enjoyment and educational value of observing birds. Also there is the category of mutual benefits, e.g. in the case of barn owls who get a place to live in a barn, but simultaneously catch the mice in a barn to protect the stored crops (the same example goes for swifts and mosquitoes in the city). Special attention was given to birds in newly built or high-density parts of a city: birds contribute to a lively environment, or as one of the participants put it ‘birds contribute to the soul of the city’.