The hubbub of the holidays can be stressful, but nothing can be more frantic than realizing you have an upcoming white-elephant or holiday gift exchange and NO GIFT! Eek! Or maybe you’re simply looking for a creative gift idea for a fellow birder. Well, here’s an easy, inexpensive, DIY holiday gift anyone can make in just minutes. And it’s a gift idea that can be easily altered to accommodate any gift-giving holiday; just change up the ribbon and decorative topper. Take a look!
So, what is a manifesto and why do you want to create one of your own? A manifesto is a public declaration of policy and aims. It’s a mission statement, a proclamation, or an announcement of one’s values and commitments.
I decided to create a manifesto of my intentions with regard to our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary. I want to keep myself accountable and reminded of my commitment – to our wildlife and birds. I want to be a good steward of our habitat and make sure our wild guests are comfortable, safe, and well fed. I figured a manifesto would be the perfect tool for that reminder, keeping me focused on what I value and serving as my north star when things get tough.
Creating my manifesto was an interesting exercise. I researched different approaches and finally I just started writing down those things that were important to me in terms of the commitment I was willing to make. I had to keep it simple, though, otherwise the task seemed daunting. But it wasn’t too terrible. In fact, it was an insightful exercise. So, here’s my backyard birding manifesto. How would yours read?
I had a chance to coordinate a wildlife meet n’ greet and fundraising event for a local wildlife rescue organization and it was a great success! Take a look at that video collage of pictures from the event itself. And if you feel so inspired, I want to encourage you to coordinate a fundraising event to support a wildlife rescue organization where you live! Are you game?
I love DIY projects and I recently tried my hand at up-cycling some 2 liter plastic bottles. Turns out it’s easier than I thought and decided to make these cute bird feeders. Functional and pretty!
First, I ordered these plastic bottle bird feeder kits on Amazon, (see picture upper left), but you can probably get them at other online retailers, too.
Then, I collected empty 2 liter plastic bottles. (We go through lots of bottled sparkling water, so collecting several was easy-peasy.)
Once I had those items in hand, I dug into my crafting stash:
- I used painter’s tape to outline my decorative space around each plastic bottle.
- I painted each space with chalk paint using a roller brush; one coat did the trick and then I let the bottle dry overnight.
- I covered the painted space with a napkin design and decoupage, separating the napkin to 1 ply and using saran wrap to remove any bubbles. Note: Remember to turn the bottle upside down before adhering the napkin design.
- I let that dry, then covered the napkin design with a 2nd coat of decoupage, which I let dry again over night
- I then coated the napkin design with varnish and let that dry overnight.
- I inserted the plastic bottle hangers by punching small holes into the sides of the bottles. I used sharp craft scissors for this step.
- Then I filled the bottle with a mixed blend of wild bird seed.
- I screwed on the plastic feeding perch and Voila!
The birds love my new feeder, and I quickly discovered that our squirrels do, too. In fact, in our backyard, we’re inundated with a bunch of hungry baby squirrels. They were able to jump onto the bird feeder and the plastic hanger wasn’t strong enough to hold their weight; it snapped and down went my feeder. But the plastic bottle and feeding perch were durable enough for the fall. So, I replaced the plastic hanger with a wire pant hanger and that did the trick!
Anyway, I loved this idea so much that I went back online and ordered 2 more sets of the plastic bottle bird feeder kits from Amazon. Then I went crazy with my napkin collection, some of which I bought from the Dollar Store. Nice!
Super easy to make, low cost, and really pretty. Hmmm… these might just make the perfect Christmas presents for my birding friends and family-members and I have plenty of time to get started in collecting bottles and supplies. Off I go…
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!
Order one of these comfy women’s tees today!
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.
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!
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! 🙂
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!
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!