Everyone welcomes birds and wildlife into their gardens. Kitchen scraps, wild bird seed, a hanging coconut, and string bags full of peanuts all provide vital food for birds (and the occasional squirrel). Large numbers of the wild bird population die over the winter, and garden birds can come to depend on the food put out for them. If you care for wildlife, it’s a good idea to provide clean food and fresh water year-round. A regular supply of food can mean survival, particularly to fledgling birds in spring.
With no shortage of tree branches, we (the authors) decided to use them to construct a simple hanging bird feeder that would attract a cross-section of the smaller species but thwart the plundering of gray squirrels and the larger crows and magpies that otherwise steal the food. Here are four easy steps for making your own!
Electric drill and 1¼-inch hole cutter bit
1-inch wood chisel
Empty metal tea light candle holders
Three 1½-inch galvanized screw eyes
Three small key rings or snap hooks
Large key ring or snap hook
Chopped peanuts or bird seed
An old, lightweight log was selected for this project to make a feeder that would be large enough to hold a reasonable quantity of bird food but light enough to hang from a slender branch, which would discourage visits from larger birds.
1. Place the log on a flat surface and, using the electric drill and hole cutter bit, drill several recesses in the top surface of the log to a depth of approximately 1½ inches.
2. Using the chisel, remove the cores of cut wood from the drilled recesses and scrape the bases level.
3. Screw the three galvanized screw eyes into the ends of the log to provide secure anchorage points for the hanging chain. Cut the lightweight chain (salvaged, if possible) into three equal lengths. Join one end of each piece of chain to each of the screw eyes using a small key ring or snap hook, and then join the remaining ends of the chain together with the large key ring or snap hook.
4. Place an empty tea light candle holder into each drilled hole in the top surface of the log and fill them with a mixture of melted fat and chopped peanuts or bird seed. Let the fat cool. Hang the bird feeder from an outer branch of a tree for the wild birds to discover and enjoy. Keep a few empty tea lights filled with the fat and seed mixture, and when the first containers are empty, replace them.
Adapted from Salvage Style for Outdoor Living, by Moira and Nicholas Hankinson. Copyright (c) 2001 by Moira and Nicholas Hankinson (Rodale Press, 2001).
Adapted from Salvage Style for Outdoor Living, by Moira and Nicholas Hankinson (Rodale Press, 2001).