Welcome songbirds to your yard every spring with a rustic-chic homemade bird feeder. While you could use almost any materials to put together a simple roofed-box to accommodate a handful of birdseed and a sturdy perch, why not utilize used materials to make this project a study in up-cycling? Transform a cardboard shipping box, or as we did here, a pint-sized milk carton, into the structure of the bird feeder before adding scrap wood and surplus craft supplies to decorate. Aside from a bit of cutting using a sharp craft knife, this project is fully kid-friendly, so don’t hesitate to spend a family afternoon around the craft table before displaying your projects in the back yard for some prime bird watching.
Equipment / Tools
- Paint brush
- Hot glue gun
- Craft knife
- 1 clean pint carton
- 18 inches butcher’s twine
- Scrap wood/twigs
- Acrylic paint and primer
Gather Your Materials
Reach into the recycling bin for the base of this simple project: an empty dairy pint. Rinse the carton well, and allow it to dry completely before using it in any craft. For your bird feeder’s personal touches, opt for homespun materials in neutral hues. Consider using scavenged twigs for a thatched roof, or tortoise-shell buttons to mimic windows. Here, we used balsa wood scraps and butcher’s twine to complete a cozy cottage-inspired bird feeder.
Paint the Pint Carton
Opt for acrylic paint when selecting a medium for this bird feeder; it’s animal safe and has great lasting power. If your climate is rainy or moist, consider adding a bird-friendly clear coat, too, before hanging your feeder outdoors. Especially if your pint carton’s original label is a bold color, prime the container with a neutral white acrylic paint before adding color. Be sure to dry completely between layers to avoid a chunky finish.
Trim the Balsa Wood
To create a thatched roof for your rustic-chic birdhouse, source scraps of soft wood or twigs with a similar thickness. Trim each balsa wood length to fit the top of the carton using a sharp craft knife (or a strong pair of scissors). Create enough “shingles” to completely cover both sides of the sloped top of your milk carton. For a more refined, polished look, sand down the cut edges of each bit of wood.
Cut a Doorway
Using the craft knife, carefully cut an archway into the front of the dry, painted pint container to act as an entry point for birds. Be sure to keep a small lip at the bottom of the carton so that it can still retain a handful of birdseed. To perfect any jagged edges, run a bit of sandpaper along the cut rim then touch up with a little extra paint.
Embellish your painted pint container by hot gluing the balsa wood shingles to the top, then adding a cute perch. Add butcher's twine to cover any unfinished edges, or along each of the carton's edges as trim. Don’t forget to poke a small hole into the top fold of the pint container, then loop a bit of butcher’s twine through for easy outdoor hanging.
Fill with Seed
Carefully pour songbird seed into the bird feeder just up the bottom edge of the archway. Store extra seed in a spouted plastic container for easy refilling, and add it to your weekly task list along with watering your outdoor plants.
Display the Bird Feeder
Using a sturdy step ladder if needed, tie the butcher’s twine onto an accessible branch of a bird-friendly tree. Maple, oak, and dogwood are all species proven to attract songbirds, but ultimately, invite birds to a cute corner of your outdoor area no matter what fauna grows there (just be sure to avoid driveways or busy walkways).