If you want to become a bird watcher, you could pick worse places than New Jersey, where you’ll find such colorful creatures as the blue jay, the cardinal and the brilliant yellow goldfinch (our state bird).
And don’t think that you need to trek through the woods with binoculars to spend time with birds. When you build a DIY bird feeder, you can let the birds come to you.
Here are a few suggestions for building your own bird feeder.
1. Milk carton bird feeders
Start by taking an empty cardboard milk carton and cutting a little hole in the front where birds can get in and out. If you’re feeling creative, give the carton a coat of paint for a new look. And if you’re feeling really creative, glue some twigs to the top of the carton to give the birds a roof/place to perch.
Once the paint (and glue) is dry, punch two holes at the top of the carton and string some twine through them so you hang your new DIY bird feeder after you’ve filled it with seed.
2. Soda bottle bird feeder
Don’t have any milk cartons sitting around? Make your DIY bird feeder out of a plastic soda bottle – with its cap – and a pair of wooden spoons. The crafting blog Here Comes the Sun offers these tips:
Start by cutting a small hole on one side of the bottle four inches from the bottom. The hole should be large enough for the handle of the wooden spoon to fit snugly.
From there, cut a second hole directly across from the first. This one should be large enough to fit the larger end of the wooden spoon
Repeat this process roughly two inches from the bottom of the bottle, but on the opposite sides, leaving the two spoons at a 90-degree angle from each other.
Fill the bottle with bird seed, and then use some floral wire to fashion a hanger at the top of the bottle. Put the cap on the bottle to keep the hanger in place, and then hang the feeder.
3. Bundt pan bird wreath
Do you enjoy baking? Why not bake something that’s, well, for the birds?
This bird seed wreath requires a Bundt cake pan and the following ingredients:
- A packet of unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup warm water
- ¾ cup flour
- 3 tbs. light corn syrup
- 4 cups bird seed
- ½ cup dried fruit
Start by mixing the water and gelatin in a large bowl. Add flour and corn syrup and stir with a rubber spatula until you have a thick paste, and add the bird seed, making sure all the seeds are coated.
Coat the top and sides of the Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray and put the dried fruit along the bottom of the pan. Then, firmly press the seed mixture into the pan.
Let it dry in a cool spot for 24 hours, then carefully flip the pan and take out the wreath. Use a ribbon to tie the wreath from a tree branch, and let the birds go to work.
Once you begin to see birds on your property, follow these tips for the best bird-feeding experience, courtesy of Project FeederWatch:
- The type of DIY bird feeder you build can influence the types of birds you attract. Some birds prefer to eat off the ground, others from tube-shaped feeders, and still others from “hopper” feeders (the kind with a roof and walls).
- The same thing goes for the type of bird seed you choose. For example, black-oil sunflower seeds will attract chickadees, cardinals and finches, while cracked corn is a favorite of quail, doves and sparrows.
- Make sure your new feeder has holes in the bottom for drainage. When moisture builds up, it can cause bird seed to become moldy.
If you aren’t sure what type of bird seed to get, Mendham Garden Center can help. We carry a number of specialty seed offerings, including woodpecker blend, cardinal and chickadee, as well as millet, suet and other feeds.
And if DIY projects aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry: We also carry several varieties of bird feeders designed to attract several varieties of bird. Visit one of our stores today to find something that will satisfy birds of every feather.