Birds are beautiful animals, and their songs are an essential part of what makes the outdoors so enjoyable. What better way to entice their lovely music into your yard, all year round? As they migrate and the seasons change, you can create a great environment for a wonderful variety of these fine feathered friends.
If you’re looking to start a garden, improve your garden, or a backyard or front yard, there is definitely an easy, low cost option that will bring in some natural music. Building a bird feeder is simple, fun, and makes for an excellent evening project. Let’s see just how simple it is!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO GET STARTED
Here are the things you’ll need in order to build a simple birdfeeder from home. Many of these things can be found lying around the house!
When I made mine, I used the inner tube of an empty roll of paper towels, but in a pinch, even a shorter toilet paper roll tube will work (though you’ll want to use only one popsicle stick instead of two). If you want to use a thicker cardboard, a shipping tube will serve just as well, but remember to scale your project appropriately! The bigger the tube, the more peanut butter and birdseed you’ll need, so we recommend starting with a simple paper towel cardboard tube.
You’ll want the wider craft sticks for this project, unless you’re downsizing to a toilet paper tube. The thinner sticks will work excellently for a smaller birdfeeder. If you or someone else in your family tend to be crafty, then it’s likely that you already have some of these lying around. Otherwise, they are readily available at any craft store in many different sizes, so pick up whichever ones you prefer. You can also grab a few small sticks from your yard.
Creamy, crunchy, organic, super crunch, whatever your favorite flavor is, the birds will love it, too! Peanut butter will keep the birdseed stuck to the cardboard tube and add delicious nutrients. If you are allergic to peanut butter, have no fear! A thicker alternative like cashew butter can work just as well as the peanut variety, or mixing Crisco and cornmeal can create a nut-free paste that will replace any or all options, depending on the severity of your allergy.
There are a ton of different kinds of bird seed out there, but for this project, I would recommend one that comes with a variety of seeds. Different birds will prefer different seeds, and your best bet to bring them all in is to offer everyone what they’re looking for. These kinds of bird seed can be called songbird or wild bird mixes. Please note that if you do have a nut allergy, that many bird seeds are processed in factories that may or may not come in contact with peanuts or other such nuts. Depending on the severity of your allergy, you may wish to wear latex or vinyl gloves or swap out the bird seed for crushed breakfast cereal like Cheerios.
Here’s where your personal flair comes to life! Yarn can get a bit messy with how fibrous and fluffy it can be, but you can use whatever string happens to be lying around the house. Camping string, packing twine, as long as it is a thin, preferably braided, type of string, you can go crazy. All that’s required is that you can thread it, tie it, and that it won’t disintegrate in outdoor conditions.
For preparation, you’ll want a butter knife to spread the peanut butter, a plate or pan to hold the seed for rolling, and scissors for cutting slots and holes out of the cardboard tube, for the string and popsicle sticks. When I built mine, I had no problem with a butter knife from the kitchen, a leftover Christmas-style paper plate, and a basic pair of scissors. If you’re feeling extra fancy, a hole punch can work really well for the string holes.
Oh, here’s the fun part, putting it all together! If you’re anything like me, a mess is unavoidable, so make sure you lay out a towel on the table to catch all the peanut butter and seeds that might end up getting tossed about. This simple birdfeeder really is simple, even for the least crafty among us.
STEP ONE: PREPARE THE CARDBOARD TUBE FOR THE STICKS
The bottommost set of slots should be wide enough to accommodate the width of your popsicle sticks. Using the scissors carefully, cut these out on opposite sides of the tube at least an inch or an inch and a half up from the bottom. Too close to the edge and the cardboard could rip out. The topmost set of cuts should be made perpendicular to the original ones at the bottom, meaning that, when the popsicle sticks are inserted, they should cross each other. Cut these slots out about halfway between the bottom set and the top of the tube itself.
STEP TWO: STRING UP THE CARDBOARD TUBE
Cut two holes in the top of the cardboard tube. Make sure they’re a half inch or so below the top edge so you can be sure the outdoor elements won’t cause an unnecessary rip. Thread through the string and tie it in a loop. Depending on where you want to hang it, a simple circle of string should be more than enough!
STEP THREE: PLACE YOUR STICKS
Slide your popsicle sticks into place and make sure the cuts are wide enough. You’ll want to do this before applying the peanut butter or else you risk losing sight of where they’re supposed to go. Don’t worry if the sticks don’t end up perfectly perpendicular to each other. The birds won’t mind!
STEP FOUR: PEANUT BUTTER IT UP!
Using the butter knife, slather a thick layer of peanut butter (or the Crisco/cornmeal mix, if you’re avoiding allergens) all around the cardboard tube. You’ll want to add a good amount on here, otherwise all the seeds will just fall off.
STEP FIVE: ADD THE SEEDS
Rolling the tube in seeds is going to be a little difficult with those sticks jutting out all over the place, so prepare to get a little messy! Grab a handful and press the seeds into the peanut butter, making sure to push firmly. Keep going until every available inch of peanut butter is completely covered in seeds, lift the tube and give it a little shake to remove excess, then maybe press in a few more.
STEP SIX: ENJOY YOUR NEW FEATHERED FRIENDS!
Hang your new bird feeder out in your backyard, garden, or wherever you want to bring in the birds. Because it’s a little heavy, you’ll need a sturdier branch. If you really want to avoid squirrels getting at it (let’s face it, they’re pretty crafty themselves), you should try to hang your feeder somewhere out and open, away from climbable trees and roofs.
What a great and easy way to bring birds into your life, and simple enough to do in a free evening. Keep an eye out for new birds as the seasons change, and be prepared to wake up to lovely birdsong. This project is also very versatile, depending on your needs and what components you have available. Did you build yours with the paper towel tube, or did you scale down to a smaller size? What kind of birds have you seen on your new birdfeeder? Let us know in the comments below!