Category Archives: DIY Bird Projects

DIY Terrarium Bird Feeder

February is National Bird Feeding Month and I can’t think of a better way to show the birds a little extra love than with this sweet DIY bird feeder!  Super easy to make and something the birds will love!

Here’s what I used:

  • Silk flowers
  • Butterfly stickers
  • Organza ribbon and/or lace
  • Colorful plastic beads
  • Plastic round terrarium balls (which I picked up at the Dollar Store)

Here’s what I did:

  • I hot-glued the silk flowers to the top of the terrarium ball
  • I added a butterfly sticker to the ball near the silk flowers
  • I threaded the ribbon and/or lace with the colorful plastic beads to make the hanger, knotting in between the beads to keep them separated
  • I added some mixed wild bird seed and hung the ball outside

Chickadees are curious, so it didn’t surprise me that it was a chickadee who decided to check out the new feeder first!  But he was quickly followed by a pygmy nuthatch who also wanted to explore the new diner! Lol.

February is National Bird Feeding Month and a great reminder to feed the birds through the tough winter months when food sources can be scarce.  Let’s show our feathered friends a little love with this sweet feeder, and remember to keep it well stocked all month long!

Quick and Easy DIY Bird Seed Parfait for the Holidays

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!

My Backyard Birding Manifesto

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?

 

DIY Up-Cycled Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

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…

DIY Suet Your Backyard Birds will LOVE!

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!

15 Things I Learned Volunteering at the Wildlife Rescue Clinic

I volunteered more than 25 hours at Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico last month, including 10 hours of classroom training, 15 hours of on the job training in the clinic, and a few more hours studying their training manual and taking the open book exam. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned in those several hours, things I wouldn’t have likely learned elsewhere. Here’s my list of top 15 things I DID NOT KNOW before my volunteer adventure, and not in any particular order.  Did YOU know?

  1. Of the yearly 2000 intakes, most are injured, sick, or orphaned birds (as opposed to mammals).
  2. Baby ducklings get lonely easily and need a mirror in their tub so their reflection will keep them company; they also need a stuffed animal to snuggle up to for warmth.
  3. Baby birds don’t do well when fed applesauce or oatmeal; they can’t process the food.
  4. Most birds don’t do well when fed dog food or cheerios; they can’t process the food.
  5. Females rule the raptor world, whereas males are larger than females in other bird species.
  6. White doves used for release during ceremonies (i.e. weddings or funerals) are actually white homing pigeons, but they don’t all make it back home; some suffer from car and window strikes or hungry hawks.
  7. Domesticated birds, including white homing pigeons, cannot fend for themselves in the wild.
  8. Birds need a dark quiet place to rest and relax for several hours before being looked at for treatment; this reduces their anxiety.
  9. Birds being cared for in the clinic need a towel placed in front of their cage so they don’t see what’s going on in the clinic; this also reduces their anxiety.
  10. Baby ducklings need to be warm during the first few weeks after they hatch and can be kept in a box under a brooding lamp.
  11. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), it is illegal to collect bird feathers or nests of protected species without a permit.
  12. It’s easier to catch and weigh a bird (not including Raptors) by covering their head with a light weight towel or wash cloth; they are more calm when they can’t see what’s going on around them.
  13. 33% of injured birds are cat-caught, meaning they are injured because they were caught by a house cat in the area.
  14. Birds abandoning their babies after being handled by humans is a myth; birds don’t abandon their babies if handled by humans (i.e. placed back up in the nest they fell out of).
  15. Caretakers must go to great lengths to avoid imprinting young birds because birds that have imprinted on humans are unsuitable for release back into the wild.

Haven’t had the chance to volunteer for a wildlife rescue facility?  Take a look at my personal experience  and see if this doesn’t have you seeking out an opportunity for yourself!

My Wildlife Rescue Volunteer Experience

Following up to my earlier post, Why I Decided to Volunteer at a Wildlife Rescue Clinic, I wanted to share my adventure and I’m sure there will be a number of follow up posts on this topic, but only because I LEARNED SO VERY MUCH!  Wow!  Take a look at the video below and if this doesn’t convince you to seek out a similar opportunity for yourself… I don’t know what will.  I simply can’t find the words to express just how grand the experience has been.

P.S. Don’t forget to turn up the volume on your computer.

For more information about Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico, or to make a donation to support this ALL VOLUNTEER organization, visit them at: https://wildliferescuenm.org/

Collecting Birds’ Nests: Do or Don’t?

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.

12 Ways to Support National Bird Feeding Month

Did you know? The average wild bird weighs less than two nickels, and winter can be a very punishing time for our backyard friends.  This explains why in 1994, John Porter, Illinois’ 10th District Congressman read a resolution that February would become National Bird Feeding Month. His proclamation was designed to encourage people to feed wild birds throughout the entire month when food sources are most scarce.

In fact, millions of wild bird enthusiasts now traditionally make special efforts in February to feed, watch and protect wild birds. Over 50 million people regularly feed wild birds in the USA, long recognized as one of the most popular outdoor activities for adults and children too.

Want to show your support? Here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Help spread the word by sharing this post with everyone you know.
  2. Comment about National Bird Feeding Month on your Social Media Platforms.
  3. Take pictures of birds at your feeder and post them on your Social Media Platforms using #natlbirdfeedingmonth.
  4. Familiarize yourself with our unsung heroes and share your knowledge with others.
  5. Stock up on bird seed and suet to keep your existing feeders full throughout the month.
  6. Make this easy DIY bird feeder to pass out to friends and colleagues on Valentine’s Day.
  7. Give an inexpensive feeder and wild bird seed to someone you love.
  8. Add something new to your backyard station (i.e. birdhouse, feeder, birdbath).
  9. Symbolically adopt a bird through the National Wildlife Federation adoption program.
  10. Purchase your “I Love My Backyard Birds” women’s Tee to show your love of birds.
  11. Host a bird-watching party in your own backyard.
  12. Sign up for the Great Backyard Bird Count which will be held in February.

February is one of my favorite months of the year, and even more so because it’s National Bird Feeding Month. In fact, just last weekend I purchased another 80 lbs. of wild bird seed to stock up. Yep, we’re going through that much in about a month’s time, so if the birds aren’t in your backyard they’re probably in mine. Lol.

Anyway, I’m hoping you’ll jump on my bandwagon and do your part to feed the birds this month and promote backyard birding as and educational and environmental adventure. Because, February really is for the Birds! Literally.

Recycle Your Mismatched Tea Cups and Saucers into Decorative Bird Feeders

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

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!

DIY Bird Feeder Using Recycled Toilette Paper Rolls

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!

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

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?

Valentine, Shmalentine… February is for the Birds!

February can be a frantic month for people, with emotions often running high from pressure to create the perfect display of affection, spend inappropriately on gifts, exaggerate a new or undesirable relationship, or feel penalized for not being in a relationship. Geez! No wonder so many people HATE February.

February can also be a frantic month for birds. WHY? Because February is one of the most difficult months for wild birds in terms of natural food and water supply, at least in the United States. In fact, John Porter (R-IL) proclaimed February as National Bird Feeding Month on February 23, 1994, when he read a resolution into the Congressional Record encouraging individuals to supplement wild birds’ natural diet of weed seeds and insects by feeding the birds in their own backyard.

SHOW SOME LOVE to the birds all month long by providing them with mixed wild bird seed or suet. And bird feeders don’t need to be expensive to be effective. You might even enjoy making a few DIY feeders yourself. Why not make one for your lovebird for Valentine’s Day? (Hint to my darling husband.)

Spotted Towhee Bath 1Don’t forget, the birds also need water, not just to drink but also to bathe in – a requirement for keeping feathers in top flight shape. If you have a birdbath already, make sure it’s clean and fill it to the brim. If you don’t already have a birdbath, a make-shift bath is just as practical. At our cabin in New Mexico, I placed a shallow plastic dish on the ground, added a large rock from the property for the birds to perch on, and filled it with water. The birds won’t mind that I didn’t spend a lot of money on it.

AND… if you’re a romantic at heart, what could be more precious than spending Valentine’s Day with your loved one enjoying nature by feeding and watching the birds?

Yes, the sign at our house reads, Birds Eat Free! And I will make sure they eat free all month long. Will you join me?