There are so many reasons why making a homemade bird feeder is an excellent activity for you and your kids. Not only will they learn about some of the most amazing creatures in nature, if you make your own bird feeder, you may also help endangered species of birds survive the hard winter months.
You don't even need to have your own garden – just hang one from your balcony or secure it to a window ledge and watch the birds delight in their new source of food! Traditionally, bird feeders are made out of metal or wood and are designed to blend into their immediate environment. But sawing wood and hammering in nails is hardly an easy way to make bird feeders for kids.
Why not 'go green’ and make a bird feeder from recycled materials instead? You'll probably already have many of the items you need to make a milk carton bird feeder at home, but if not you can always ask a relative to donate their unwanted cartons. Just follow the instructions below to learn how to make a bird feeder!
How to Make a Bird Feeder from a Milk Carton
Many juice and milk cartons are made from non-recyclable materials and end up directly contributing to landfill sites across Britain. So, making a milk or juice carton bird feeder is a great way of giving back to the environment. You’ll need:
- Clean, dry juice or milk carton
- Permanent marker pen
- Scissors or craft knife
- Skewer or darning needle
- String or coloured wool
- Pencil or stick
- Paint and other decorative materials
- Birdseed or kitchen scraps
- On the side of the carton, about a quarter of the way up, draw a door shape large enough for a small bird to fit through. Then cut it out.
- To make the perch for your birdfeeder, pierce a hole below the door opening and another at the same height on the opposite side of the carton to feed a pencil or stick through. This will allow birds to balance on the perch as they nibble on the birdseed. Next, pierce three holes into the top of the carton.
- Then, thread the string though the holes in what is now the 'roof' of the' bird feeder and tie in a loop – this is what you will use to hang up the bird feeder. Then, decorate the bird feeder any way you like, making sure you use non-toxic materials.
- To make the perch for your birdfeeder, pierce a hole below the door opening and another at the same height on the opposite side of the carton to feed a pencil or stick through. This will allow birds to balance on the perch as they nibble on the birdseed.
- Finally, fill the bottom of the carton with birdseed and hang it wherever birds can access it.
- Supervise any little finger when cutting out and piercing holes in your bird feeder.
- Be sure to fill your homemade bird feeder with enough birdseed so that it is weighted down and won’t blow away!
- Different birds eat different types of foods. Ready-made birdseed should offer a good mix of flaked maize, sunflower seeds, broken peanuts, and smaller seeds. You can also make your own bird food out of kitchen scraps like pastry, cooked rice, dried fruit, and breadcrumbs. A variety of different foods on the menu should attract an array of species!
- Remember to keep your bird feeder well stocked, especially in winter when food supplies are scarce for birds.
Once you've hung your birdfeeder up, all you need to do is wait for new visitors to appear! But can your family identify exactly who's eating seed from your birdfeeder carton?
Bird Spotting for Beginners
Bird spotting is a really fun way to test your family's powers of observation and deduction – of course it's the kind of activity that takes a bit of patience too! You can easily adapt any bird watching activity to suit the age of your child. Here are a few ideas: Toddlers and younger children will delight in:
- Counting birds
- Comparing their colours and sizes
- Listening for and trying to mimic birdsong
Older children will enjoy:
- Identifying species
- Learning about bird habits and habitats
- Participating in annual national bird watching events like the Big Garden Bird Watch run by the RSPB.
The key to a good bird watching session is preparation – especially if you're exploring nature outside your own garden – so be sure to check out these helpful bird watching tips from the National Trust before you start. And if you end up creeping through the undergrowth in search of an elusive feathered friend, you know you don't need to worry about messy clothes – we've got all the washing tips you need to help tackle common stains, such as mud and grass!