Green Your Life: DIY Repurposed Bird Feeders

Reader Contribution by Dani Hurst
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When I come home to a warm house after scurrying around all day in the cold and snow, I can’t help but feel sorry for the birds that have to brave this awful weather outside. While I can’t house any of them (my dog makes for an unsafe environment for little critters), I can help them out by providing them with some much-needed winter nutrition.

I will sometimes throw old pieces of bread in the yard for them, but I was recently inspired to go a step further by a project I saw that transformed a pine cone into a bird feeder by covering it with peanut butter and bird seed. I scoured my yard for pine cones but had no luck, so instead I decided to repurpose cardboard toilet paper rolls that would otherwise get thrown out and turn them into peanut butter roll bird feeders.

This simple bird feeder is easy to make and only takes a few materials: a used toilet paper or paper towel roll, peanut butter and bird seed. When choosing a branch to hang this on, I opt for ones whose ends are turned up so the roll won’t fall off. Photo By Dani Hurst.

What you’ll need:

Peanut butter (I used creamy, but chunky will work, too)
Toilet paper or paper towel roll
Bird seed (store-bought mix or homemade combination)

After removing all the paper from the roll, cover the outside with a generous amount of peanut butter, then roll it in bird seed. Make sure to press the seeds into the peanut butter so they will stick well and not fall off if it gets windy. Then just slide it onto a sturdy branch about 5 feet off the ground and let the feeding commence. This is an easy arts and crafts project that you can do alone or with friends and family, and is especially great for younger children.

After finishing that project, I realized that there were many other possible bird feeders calling out to me from my recycling bin, one of which being an empty gallon milk container.

To make a sturdy bird feeder, simply cut a few doors into the sides of a used milk container, fill it with bird seed and fasten it to a thick branch. Recycling is a great end for these types of items, but repurposing is even better because they become useful again without a lot of processing. Photo By Dani Hurst.

What you’ll need:

Empty gallon milk container
Sharp knife or scissors
Bird seed
Drill and screws

Make sure the milk container is clean, then cut a few openings in the sides big enough for a bird to fit through and fold down the flaps. Fill the container with enough bird seed to reach the bottom of the openings, screw on the lid and affix the feeder to a tree. I used a drill and screws to fasten it to a thick branch, but you can also use nails, zip-ties or other common household items.

I put my feeders up in the early evening. By the next day a bunch of birds were happily feasting, and every day since I’ve heard excited chirping coming from that direction. If you do choose to start feeding birds this winter, make sure it’s a commitment you’re willing to stick with. Those birds will come to depend on you feeding them, and you don’t want to leave them out in the cold, do you? 

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