Our project this weekend was taking some of the plastic containers out of the recycling and turning them into something useful — bird feeders! This is a fun project and you probably have everything you need sitting around the house. A glue gun makes it easy to “dress up” a basic feeder, but really you don’t need to do that, and you could make a simple feeder in about 5-10 minutes. My thinking behind doing this was that we focus too much on the recycling part of “reduce, reuse, recycle” and not enough on reusing. My next project is making one of those purses out of chip bags, but that’s a whole other post…
To make recycled bird feeders, you need some plastic containers (we used an old spice container, yogurt bottle, cooking oil container, and juice bottle). Clear plastic is more of a pain to cut through than opaque plastic, fyi. But the spice container had a nice square shape to it, so I used it anyway. You also need something to hang it with (rope, wire, etc.) and something for the birds to sit on (we used sticks from the yard, but I’ve also seen old wooden spoons and silverware used). If you want, you can decorate it with a glue gun and random crap to stick on the outside (we used twigs on one and nothing on the other one), or have the kids paint it with nontoxic paint. And don’t throw away the container lids, you need them to keep the rain from soaking the bird food inside. We also used a large nail and candle flame to make holes for the stands for the birds and the places to insert the rope. Oh, and you need bird food.
Mark where you want the “windows,” where the birds will stick their heads in, and dots below each window for the perch holes. Also a couple of dots for where you’ll feed the wire or rope through beneath the lip of the container.
Be careful cutting out the windows; adults should definitely help kids with this part. For the container in this photo, I had to heat up the knife over the flame to get it into the plastic. I did the same with the nail to make the perch holes and rope holes.
If you want to cover the container with something, like we did with the twigs, I’d suggest putting the perches and the hanging rope or wire in at this point, rather than after covering it. Doing the glue gun-twig thing was really hard for my six-year-old, so I ended up doing all of the decorating. Which is why one of them is completely undecorated. I thought afterward that you could have younger kids paint white glue on one side at a time and then sprinkle dry sand over the surface. Sort of an adobe bird feeder effect. So I might try that next time, since we only ended up finishing two of them today.
Thread the rope through and knot it, then fill with bird seed, replace the lid and you’re done! Here’s the finished “log cabin” bird feeder hanging in the ficus tree.
Right next to it I have a hanging basket that I fill up with coconut fiber and dryer lint. I have a bunch of other hanging baskets with orchids in them and no where else to put them that would be safe from the little sparrows that kept stealing the coconut fibers from the baskets. So I figured, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and now they have their own basket that I keep stocked with their own nest-building materials. As you can see, this tactic seems to have worked:
This is the other feeder we made. It’s just an old yogurt bottle with a twig perch and wire I found in the garage. Teeny tiny birds will like this one. I hope!