Category Archives: DIY Bird Projects

DIY Suet Your Backyard Birds will LOVE!

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One of the many things I love about my various speaking engagements, book signings, and library events is the people I meet who share a similar passion for their backyard birds! Last week I had the pleasure of meeting DeAnn Zwight, who shared with me her DIY “Boid Goo” recipe. It sounds fantastic and here’s all that’s involved!

  • Bring 6 ½ cups water to a boil, while heating up ADD 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together these dry ingredients: ½ cup flour, 2 cups cornmeal, and 1 cup sugar
  • After the water has come to a boil and the shortening has disintegrated, WHISK in the dry ingredients
  • If you like, add seeds, nuts, raisins, etc.
  • TURN OFF HEAT, cover and cool
  • When cool put into containers (use old commercial suet containers, but round cottage cheese containers partially filled will work too).
  • FREEZE overnight, then put out for the “boids”.

Wow! Doesn’t that sound yummy? And it’s simple enough for even someone like me to try. LOVE THAT! And the birds love it too; take a look at the pictures here (all taken by DeAnn) of her backyard birds eating up her “boid goo”.

And, if you need some ideas for household items that can be used to pour suet into, try some of these:

    • Baker’s Tin Foil Bake Cups
    • When you purchase a suet cake, reuse the container that it came in
    • Small bread loaf pans lined with plastic wrap or foil for easy removal
    • Margarine containers
    • Any size baking/pie pans (when suet cools, cut into squares)

Easy peasy, as my husband likes to say! Lol. Thanks for sharing this DeAnn!

 

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Collecting Birds’ Nests: Do or Don’t?

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I recently picked up a used book on nature-inspired mixed-media art techniques. It is a beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations and photographs of various ideas for mixed media arts and crafts, and I fell in love with the many examples centered around bird and butterfly motifs. The book had some terrific tips for gathering botanicals and sea shells for various displays and arrangements, but I was horrified when I turned to the chapter on gathering birds’ nests. I thought I had read somewhere that this was illegal.

The book commented, “Winter is the only time of year to ever remove a nest from its natural surroundings. Only in the winter months can you be sure that the birds have abandoned the dwelling and that you aren’t disrupting any nesting activities.” The book also went on to explain that it is against the law to take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

I was relieved to read this last clarification, but still I was disturbed by the thought of collecting nests. So, I did what I do best… researched the subject on line. Here’s what US Fish and Wildlife Services says…

“Most bird nests are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA). This law says: No person may take (kill), possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such bird except as may be permitted under the terms of a valid permit… It is also illegal for anyone to keep a nest they take out of a tree or find on the ground unless they have a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).”

I continued my online research and found numerous stories about how people had faced federal charges for removing or disturbing birds’ nests, with penalties ranging between $3,000 and $25,000. Wow!

Last Saturday I had a chance to visit the Wildlife Rescue Center at the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque, and I took a picture of the various birds’ nests they had on display in their enclosed cabinet. I asked about the nests, and Sarah explained that their organization had the special permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their collection of nests. She confirmed what I had uncovered in my research about the permits and it made sense that an organization that rescues and cares for over 2000 birds annually, including eggs, would also collect nests.

During my research I also read that birds NOT protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act include House Sparrows, European Starlings, Domestic Pigeon or Rock Doves, Monk parakeets, Eurasian Collared Doves, and Canada Geese. Good to know, but then I have to ask myself: do I know enough about birds and their nests to identify one species’ nest from another?

I continue to be inspired by the book I purchased and, knowing what I now know after all my research, I’ve decided to refrain from collecting birds’ nests OF ANY KIND, and instead will use my trusty camera to “collect” them photographically.

 

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DIY Bird Projects with My Salvation Army Score

Following my own advice for supporting National Bird Feeding Month, I decided to add something new to my backyard stations with some easy DIY bird projects using supplies I purchased at the Salvation Army.  And I scored big with my shopping spree!  Just check these out, and my total investment was less than $20:

DIY project #1: Miniature wood birdhouses (above left) spray painted red and decorated with silk flowers, nailed to a tree, and wrapped with silk ivy to keep them in place through the high winds. A little splash of color and lots of fun to make!

DIY project #2: Recycled plate bird feeder (above right) with this sweet decorative plate, string, colored beads, and a large silk flower hot-glued to the bottom for added interest!  The birds can’t seem to leave this one alone.  Lol.

DIY project #3: Small Green Watering Can bird feeder (above left) with hot-glued silk flowers hanging from a glass suction-cup window hanger for bird feeders. Great way to add a splash of color and bring the birds closer to the window for better observation!

DIY Project #4: White Metal Sconce bird feeders (above right) with hot-glued silk flowers and ivy tied to a metal garden trellis and filled to the brim with bird seed. Both pretty AND functional!

Not too shabby!  And I still have some supplies left over for creating more DIY bird projects this weekend.  I’m so excited!

 

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Winter Bird Feeding Tips

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As we move into February, also known by birders far and wide as National Bird Feeding Month, I thought I’d share my favorite tips for feeding birds during the remainder of our cold winter days.   And please pay special attention to the don’ts listed below, too!

Happy birding!  🙂

 

Show Your Love of Birds with these Gorgeous Note Card Sets

Click an image below – 3 sets to choose from, and watch the video for details!


Recycle Your Mismatched Tea Cups and Saucers into Decorative Bird Feeders

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When the weather outside is frightful, I like to spend a few hours inside relaxing with simple DIY projects for the birds, including recycling my mismatched tea cups, saucers, and other bowls and dishes into decorative bird feeders. What a great way to repurpose old dishes. All that’s needed are a few saucers and tea cups, string, plastic beads, silk ivy or colored flowers, and a glue gun. Just take a look at this quick video for some ideas.

Thanks for watching… and the birds thank you, too! 

Holiday Party Ideas for Birders

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Time has surely flown by this year as the holidays are nearly upon us! I’m already starting to feel the pressure of Black Friday.  Aren’t you?  And with the excitement of all the holiday sales and bonuses, I’m delighted about the opportunity to get together with friends and loved ones.  Yep, it’s time to party!  And we birds of a feather can flock together by celebrating both the holidays and the birds at the same time!  Here are a few tips for making your party a special treat for your fellow birders and birding organization:

  • Use the cardinal as your source of inspiration for your decorations (i.e. linens, napkins, dish wear, invitations, etc.) to tie in the traditional reds of Christmas.
  • Serve avian-inspired cocktails, like these suggestions from the Audubon, including the American Redstart, the Purple Finch, and the Roseate Spoonbill—all bird species that are considered climate-threatened.
  • Serve bird theme appetizers (i.e. spicy wings and deviled eggs) and cookies pressed from bird shaped cutters to keep the theme going strong.
  • Host a white “emu” gift exchange and ask guests to bring gift items that are bird themed.
  • Play your favorite bird movie in the background or show the entire movie as your featured activity (I suggest Fly Away Home with Jeff Daniels and Dana Delaney – beautiful cinematography and a touching feel good story).
  • Provide DIY garland strung with ingredients the birds will love (i.e. popcorn, raisins, berries, and nuts) for your guests to use to decorate one of your outdoor trees; this will make for fun birdwatching during a daytime party.
  • Provide bird seed ornaments as party favors to send home with guests for the birds in their backyards.

Hit two birds with one stone by hosting a holiday party for your fellow birders or birding organization. By following these simple tips, your party is sure to be a feather in your cap!

 

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DIY Bird Feeder Using Recycled Toilette Paper Rolls

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A Perfect Indoor Project for the Entire Family!

blog-post-2If you have girls in the house and like to recycle, this project is ideal.  Lol.  It’s also a perfect project for the kids to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating outdoors. But you’ll have to save up your empty toilet paper rolls for this one. (I keep mine tucked away in the bathroom cabinet for when I need a project to keep me busy.)

  1. Use a light weight sandpaper to remove excess paper or glue from the roll.
  2. Pour some store-bought birdseed into a wide baking pan or dish.
  3. blog-post-3Coat each paper roll with creamy peanut butter using a butter knife.
  4. Roll the peanut butter-coated paper roll in the birdseed to cover.
  5. Stand rolls on a sheet of foil or parchment paper for 24 hours to set.
  6. Thread colored yarn, string, twine, or ribbon through the paper rolls.
  7. Tie or knot ends to make the hanger.
  8. Hang outside and enjoy!

blog-post-4The great thing about peanut butter is that it will keep for a few months before it goes bad, so you can make these a few weeks in advance for holiday or hostess gifts. Simply place the feeder inside a plastic sandwich baggie and adhere a decorative holiday sticker to the baggie. A collection of these in a decorative bowl or basket will dress up any holiday table or counter space.

Enjoy!

 

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Adorable DIY Bird Feeder – A Perfect Gift for this Holiday Season!

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I struck gold! I found a set of 12 miniature wood bird houses on sale and I just knew I could do SOMETHING creative with them.  So, I shoveled out the cash and brought ‘em home.

Once home, I just stared at them, obsessing over my dilemma – do I make cutesy artsy decorative bird houses?   Or do I make cutesy artsy decorative bird feeders?

After a few days I decided… cutesy artsy decorative bird feeders! Just take a look, and this was easy peasy.

  • blog-post-7FIRST, I removed the price sticker from the bottom of the miniature bird house.
  • SECOND, I coated the bird house with creamy peanut butter, using a butter knife to get into the small areas.
  • THIRD, I coated the bird house with a bird seed blend, including their favorite black oil sunflower seed. I set the house on a piece of tin foil and left it alone for 24 hours.
  • blog-post-6FOURTH, I added more peanut butter to select locations on the bird house for securing fresh cuts of juniper, including the berries. I left it on the tin foil for another 24 hours; the peanut butter served as an adhesive for the sprigs of juniper.
  • FIFTH, I discovered a HUGE ERROR on my part…

My SECOND step should have been drilling small holes into the roof of the bird house to thread string or colored ribbon through for hanging.  Oops!  This should have been done BEFORE I coated the house with creamy peanut butter.

My husband laughed when I showed him my error, “That’s okay, we can use the drill and still add the holes, but yes, it’s better if you can remember to that first next time.”

Lesson learned, and STILL I am thrilled with the way it turned out. After all was said and done, this little project cost me less than $5.00 each.  Nice!

Now, another major dilemma… do I keep these for myself and put them in MY backyard for MY backyard birds? Or do I give them away as holiday hostess gifts or Christmas presents for SOMEONE ELSE’S backyard birds?  Ugh!  The agony!

What would you do?

 

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Kill Two Birds with One Stone with this Simple DIY Grapefruit Bird Feeder

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If you love grapefruit and are a recycler at heart, you’ll love this easy project for attracting birds to your backyard. Cut a grapefruit in half and eat the juicy part by scooping out the fruit with a spoon.  But don’t throw away the rind!  Recycle instead.

  1. DSC_1719Scoop out any remaining fruit with a spoon to form a small bowl.
  2. Use a sharp knife to punch four small holes into the sides of the bowl, toward the top and equally spaced around.
  3. Thread string or twine through the holes, running down and under the bowl for added support; knot at the top to make the hanger.
  4. Fill the grapefruit bowl with bird seed or your favorite suet mixture.
  5. Hang your feeder outdoors and enjoy!

HELPFUL HINT: Make sure your four holes for the string or twine are far enough below the top of the bowl to keep the string from tearing through the rind.

Colorful and aromatic, the birds just love these! Hang a grouping of these feeders to add more color to your tree or yard and intersperse the grapefruit feeders with some made from oranges, which also work well for this project.

 

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Decorating a Bird House? Easy as Duck Soup!

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I finally broke down and ordered some bird houses! I’ve spent so much time and energy attracting birds to my backyard paradise with feeders, that I neglected to add a few nesting houses. I had ordered a wren house and a cardinal house and I couldn’t wait to put them up. I was so excited when they arrived.

Then a friend asked me, “You are so creative; are you going to paint and decorate them?”

Hmm. I hadn’t thought of that, but I do like to decorate my bird feeders. Why not decorate a bird house?

DSC_1710 (2)Suddenly, visions of spilled paint, a messy clean-up, and hours of drying in between coats ran through my head. I wondered if I was really up to the task.

I went online and searched the subject and read about how a poorly chosen paint job can be dangerous to the birds because:

  • Bright colors can attract predators
  • Toxic paints can be poisonous to adult birds and their babies
  • Dark colors in sunny areas can attract too much heat for the babies

Whew! That was enough to deter me from painting. With my luck I would have been the dope that got it all wrong and put my birds in harm’s way. Nope. Not happening in my backyard! Plus, I wasn’t really in the mood for that big of a project.

But I do like a pretty garden and yard. So, I opted for soft colored silk flowers, which I attached to the bird house using florist wire. And I had all of the supplies already on hand. Gotta love that!

Pretty. Practical. Easy. Fast.

Now, let’s see who moves in first.

 

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