OK, it’s late spring, the bugs are back. In force. But it’s only a matter of a few weeks before the baby birds, bats and dragonflies come out and start snacking them back down to a reasonable level.
I love to attract and keep birds around on my rural Massachusetts homestead by building feeders and houses for them. I mostly cobble mine together out of scrap wood. 4 sides, a bottom, two pieces for a rood, cut a hole and put a stick on it and you’ve got Habitat for Birds. Leave one or two sides open and you’ve got a feeder.
But here are some very cool designs that use recycled cans, jugs, even a cinder block to make shelter and feeders for our feathered friends. I found these on ThePetsCentral, OttoBlotto, and New England Birdhouse. There are a lot of resources out there for these things, and plenty of scrap materials to fashion tiny food and housing units from. These were some of my favorites:
Coffee Can Bird House
Designer Ignacio Pilotto created the Nestle Bird House, made from a recycled aluminum Nestle coffee can. I suppose any brand will do. Just put eyes through the side for hanging, cut a hole in the lid, and push a pencil or old pen barrel through it for a perch. Hang from a tree branch, and listen for the offline twittering.
Apple Juice Bottle Birdhouse
Marcel Wanders designed this modern bird house with from a ceramic apple juice bottle. I suppose painted glass would work as well. Just add sticks to this recycled bird house, attach through the bottom to your tree or post, and you are all set.
Michael Bom of Rotterdam took pieces of old billboard signs and used drawer pulls to create the Billbird house. Making them with the billboard adds color and pattern. Fort the modern and trendy wren in your life.
Cinder Block Bird House
What’s sturdier than a brick house? The Cinder Block Bird House is unique use of an old cinder block. It can be hung from a sturdy limb-don’t sit below it — or simply placed on the ground. Fill in the cinder block holes with scraps of wood and add a perch and entry. A great way to use old materials to give sturdy housing to a bird in need.
These designs form Otto Blotto are whimsical, sturdy and recycled from slab wood pieces and old hardware.
The Key House has a front and half roof made from slab wood. The rest of the house is made from scrap 1 inch boards. The roof is covered in tin from an old barn. Old keys add décor (you could even hide your spare house key among them), and perch is an old door stop and a brass plate. A maple sap bucket lid might make a good roof as well.
House of Shalom
If you keep a Kosher home, this little house is also made with slab wood and the right side has the word "shalom" in Hebrew burned into the side. The left side has a tree of life burned into it, and both sides have colored wire and nail Stars of David. The front uses an old floor vent grate and the perch is a pewter drawer pull. The roof is partially covered in old barn tin, decoratively edged with pull chain. All it needs is a mezuzah by the entry
Recycled Bottle Hummingbird Feeder
Last, if you are into hummingbirds, and who isn’t, you can build this feeder from a reclaimed soda bottle and cap, a scrap of copper tube, and a burst beach ball or old silk flower.
Rinse the used bottle, cap and ¼ inch copper tubing with fresh water. Using a 7/16″ inch drill bit, make a hole in the bottle cap. Cut 6″ of copper tubing and sand rough edges smooth. 2 inches from the top of the pipe, make a 30-40 degree bend in the tube, and insert the short end into the bottle cap. The tube should fit snuggly into the hole. Put a bead of hot glue around the tube inside and outside of the bottle cap. Don’t get it on the cap threads.
Then make a “flower” for the end of the tube. Insert the tube through the middle of the silk flower extending flower, extending the tube about halfway through the flower. Secure with hot glue, or wrap with string or wire. A flower pattern can be cut from a red or orange panel of an old beach ball, cinched around the tube and wrapped with a wire.
Last, wrap a coat hanger or bit of wire around the bottom of the bottle, leaving enough length to make a hook for hanging. Add sugar water and hum along! Full instructions here.