How to turn a milk carton into bird feeder.
by Jane Lake
Here’s how to recycle a milk carton or juice carton to make an excellent bird feeder for finches, sparrows, chickadees and other small feathered visitors to backyard bird feeders.
This design protects the bird seed from rain and snow, which is very useful in the winter months when many bird feed platforms become snow covered and unusable. Don’t forget, however, that feeding the birds is a year-long commitment; during the nesting season in spring and summer, the nutritional needs of many birds increases tremendously as they work to build nests and feed their young.
You will need:
- milk or juice carton
- craft knife or scissors
- wax pencil or crayon
- ruler or straight edge
- two small lengths of double-sided tape
- two bamboo skewers or straight, small diameter twigs to use as perchs
- bird seed
- hole punch
- twine to make a hanger
1. Use the wax pencil and ruler to draw the shape of the opening on the front of the milk carton, as shown in the diagram at right. The opening looks like the outline of a house with a peaked roof. You should allow about two inches at the bottom of the carton to hold a good amount of seeds.
2. Use the craft knife to cut out the opening. Younger children will need an adult to help with this part.
3. Using the top of the peak as a center point, fold the piece of milk carton that you just removed in half along its length. Make a half inch cut from the point of the peak down the center fold. Fold up a half inch flap on either side of this cut, as shown in the diagram at right.
4. Attach a length of double-sided tape to each flap.
5. Insert this roof piece into the top of the opening and use your fingers to press the flaps against the inside of the milk carton until the double-sided tape holds securely.
6. Poke a bamboo skewer or thin straight twig through the wall of the milk carton, just below the left side of the opening. Repeat on the right side. Poke skewers all the way through and out the back wall of the carton. This keeps the perches straight and secure.
7. Use a hole punch or a skewer to punch two holes through the top line of the carton.
8. Thread twine through the two holes to make a hanger.
9. Fill the bottom of the feeder with nyger seed or a small bird seed mixture. Hang your milk carton bird feeder from a tree branch that you can reach easily when you need to add more bird seed.
If you plan to do a lot of bird watching, hang the feeder in a spot that you can see clearly from a window. If the bird feeder is some distance away, use binoculars or a spy glass to see the birds up close.
Buy a good bird identification book and keep a record of all the species that turn up at your backyard feeding station. Record the date that you saw each bird, whether it was a male or female, or a pair of a birds. You may also want to add other observations about their size, appearance, special markings and behaviour.
Research the birds that you see to find out what types of foods they prefer, or experiment by offering different types of bird seed in your bird feeder to find out for yourself.