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The Allegheny Riverfront Trail Has A New Birdhouse Art Installation

About 40 new birdhouses line the Allegheny River trail between the Roberto Clemente and Fort Duquesne bridges downtown as part of a new public art installation, Invisible Ecologies. Concrete, glass, plastic and other often discarded human-made materials comprise the habitats to demonstrate the intersection of the natural and urban environments.

Signs display QR codes near the structures to direct passerby to the bird songs of the native Western Pennsylvania species. Black-capped chickadees, wrens, bluebirds, martins and tree swallows are all anticipated to settle in the birdhouses.

“They’ve taken those materials and turned them into really safe, welcoming potential habitat for native birds,” said Riverlife’s Stephan Bontrager. “So there’s an ecological function to this piece, but there’s also a beautification function. We really know that public art installed along the riverfronts can attract people.”

Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust teamed up with design collective Future Green Studio out of Brooklyn, NY to create the sculpture. The project coincides with the opening of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, but will remain along the river for two more years.

“People who are using the trail, biking by, jogging by, walking, will see hopefully these habitats and environments built up over the next couple of years,” Bontrager said.

Invisible Ecologies is the first installation in a new initiative called Artwalk on the Allegheny, a joint venture with Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to install engaging temporary public art along the riverfront.

“Projects like these, you know, are are relatively small in nature, but they really get people thinking about what Pittsburgh's riverfront experience is like and what it can be,” Bontrager said.