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Offbeat News: Apple's old Macs are for the birds

A macadamia farm in Australia is home to what may be one of the most innovative, ecologically friendly Mac recycling projects to date.

While Apple has drawn the spotlight to its new eco-friendly commitment and is offering schools a helping hand with a new recycling program, at least one organization is taking its own approach to spare old systems from the landfills.

The Australian state of New South Wales is home to Piccadilly Park, a farm just south of Bangalow that has seen a transformation from a cattle farm to a hybrid macadamia orchard and wetland restoration project where rainforest trees frequently outnumber the crops. Encouraging the growth has brought in an array of birds that not only lend a more organic feel to the farm, but also serve as a natural substitute for the toxic pesticides that would otherwise be used to kept insects at bay.

But to help these birds find a home, farm owner Rex Harris has thought of a unique approach to building nesting boxes: converting old Macintosh computers. Instead of building the avian homes solely from scratch, Piccadilly Park has taken to emptying and then reusing the plastic shells of vintage Macs as birdhouses, mounting them on poles throughout the farm to provide nests in open areas.

Reworking the classic computers has proven successful. The green and tan boxes are now home to the Eastern Rosella parrots shown in the photos. Butcherbirds and kestrels also find sanctuary if the entry holes are the right size, according to Harris. And in a perhaps unsurprising turn, the Mac casing of choice for the makeover is the original all-in-one design, first seen in 1984. The body is particularly well suited to the conversion process.

"The old Macs are perfect for nesting boxes with ventilation slots along the front, rear, and under the hand space where you lift them," Harris says. "We tried the original iMacs, but they are too big and get too hot."

Locating the preferred systems can be difficult. Most are "very very hard to find" in the present day, Harris adds, and will usually turn up in garage sales. Still, the pursuit is said to be worthwhile and results in a large batch of nests for the farm. About twenty receive the treatment on a rainy day, when the weather lends itself to working indoors.

Harris would also like to note that orchards aren't the only possible homes for the Mac aviaries. Repurposing the old systems could easily become "something schools and nature lovers could take up" as a hobby, he tells AppleInsider.

He also explains that while he isn't limited to using any one variant of the initial Mac chassis for the nesting boxes, there's at least one edition he would choose for Piccadilly Park above the others.

"We have used whatever we can get, even the last [Color Classic] model," he says. "[But] I love the original box, the one with the signatures of the development team on the inside."

Photo Gallery

A macadamia farm in Australia


A macadamia farm in Australia


A macadamia farm in Australia


A macadamia farm in Australia


A macadamia farm in Australia


A macadamia farm in Australia