On January 24 and 25 this year, the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place. We’ve signed up for the event and this week, in preparation, decided to make some easy DIY bird-feeders.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is an annual event. The aim is to encourage people throughout the UK to spend one hour during the weekend counting all the birds they see in their garden, and submit their results to the Big Birdwatch website. The results are used to monitor the ups and downs of the UK bird population. Why not join in? You can find out more, or sign up for the event, at the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch website.
The DIY bird-feeders below are really easy to make, great for children to get involved in, and, most importantly, provide an important source of food for our garden birds at a time of year when food is scarce and the weather cold.
While I’m on the topic and before we launch into the how-tos… if you have small children who are into nature, you really should check out the book Our Garden Birds by Matt Sewell (pictured right, widely available). It’s a beautifully illustrated book introducing the common UK garden birds in a series of amusingly crafted caricatures.
1. DIY bottle bird- feeder
You need: 1 clean empty plastic bottle, two wooden sticks, some string and bird seed, and a craft knife.
Near the bottom of the bottle, use your craft knife to make a small cross in the bottle, about the same width and height as the circumference of your wooden stick. Repeat it on the opposite side of the bottle, and poke the stick through, so that it sticks out at each side to provide a perch for the birds. Repeat near the top of the bottle to create a point to tie your string for hanging the feeder.
About 1cm above the lower stick entrance and exit points, cut into the bottle in the shape of a lower-case letter ‘n’. This will create a flap, which you can fold down to the outside of the bottle. Don’t make it too big, or the seed will all spill out. Ours was about 1cm across and 1cm high.
Then fill your bottle with bird seed, replace the lid, and hang it in your garden!
2. DIY hanging bird table
You need: 26 wooden lolly sticks, pva glue, string or twine.
Lay 11 lolly sticks out, side-by-side. Glue one stick across the first sticks at one end, and one at the other end. It should look like the first picture below.
Next, Glue two sticks 1/3 of the way down and 1/3 of the way up, so that they stick out to make perches, and then add two further sticks, one at each side, as in the second picture below.
Continue adding sticks, alternating between the top and bottom edges and sides, until you are left with just four sticks remaining. It should look like the third picture below.
Then turn the structure over and add the final four sticks in the shape of a letter ‘W’. This adds rigidity. Place a heavy book on top and leave to dry.
When the glue is fully dry, attach string at the four corners and join at the top to make a hanging loop. Fill with bird seed and hang in a tree.
3. Pine cone bird-feeder
You need: suet, bird seed, pine-cones, mixing bowl.
In the mixing bowl, mix equal quantities of suet and bird seed, using your hands to really squidge it together. This is something that small children love helping with.
Then poke the mixture into the gaps in a pine cone and tie some string around the top and hang it in a tree.
4. Bird-seed and suet balls.
You need: suet, bird seed, mixing bowl, net bag (the ones you get citrus fruit in are ideal).
Mix equal quantities of bird seed and suet in a bowl, then squeeze it into ball shapes, around golf-ball or table-tennis ball size. Leave the balls in a fridge or somewhere cold to firm up, then put into the net bag and use string to secure it closed. The net gives the birds something to cling to while they feed. The ends of the string can be used to hang the bag in a tree.
We had lots of fun making these, and the birds have been appreciating them too!