Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rustic bird feeder - a DIY tutorial

Welcome to my "Matariki crafting" project! When Juliet first suggested this Winter themed blog hop I struggled to think about a project to share, then I remembered our Winter-time tradition of making a bird feeder! Each year for the past three years we've been making bird feeders, each year a little different than the last, you can read about the past feeders here, "For the birds" part 1, part 2 and part 3.

But this year I came up with the best so far! (well in my opinion anyway). So lets get creating!

Gather up your supplies, you will need: soft bendy twigs (I used Silver Birch), wire or natural string or twine, scissors, insect mesh (sold by the metre at hardware stores - you will only need a little bit), Wild bird seed. Also helpful are secateurs and wire cutters. A wee note on the bird seed, I've had limited success with the home-brand seed, seems our local birds don't like the mix and didn't really eat it! For the sake of a few cents don't skimp! One packet goes a long way. No soft bendy twigs in your backyard? Gather up the kids and go for a walk in your local park, I'm sure you'll be able to find some twigs to use, say you are on "a hunt" and watch the kid's eyes light up!

First up, grab your scissors and cut a rough circle shape from your insect mesh - mine was around 20cm in diameter. Why insect mesh you might ask? Well Winter is often rainy here in New Zealand and I've found in past bird feeder making experiences that water can pool in them, creating a floating bird seed soup! This way the water can drain away, hopefully keeping the seeds fairly dry. Brilliant!

Wrap the twigs roughly around your mesh shape - don't worry about all the straggly bits, we'll sort them out in the next step. Cut off any large thick pieces with the secateurs.

Cut a length of wire or twine/string and start attaching the twigs to the mesh, because I used wire it was easy to thread through the mesh, but if you are using twine or string you might want to use a large darning needle to make the process easier. Work your way around till all the loose ends are tucked in and the mesh is attached all the way around. I used a blanket stitch, but you could easily just use short lengths and tie them at intervals.

Cut two pieces of wire or twine, each one around 60cm in length. If you are using wire, twist is as per the photo above. If you are using string, tie a knot around 10cm down, this is what will slide over the branch to hang the feeder from.

Twist the wire through the mesh and over the twigs at four equal intervals around the feeder. If you are using string, thread up a needle to make this step easier.

Find a spot in a tree to hang it! Keep in mind any local cats that might be able to get to the feeder! Put it high in a tree to keep the birds safe, we don't want to make a "cat cafe".

Fill it up with some Wild bird seed - or take the next step........

 Make some bird balls! You can really just clear out your pantry and make the birds happy all at once! You can use any of the following sorts of things to make your bird balls:

Stale cornflakes, rice bubbles, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc, stale - but not mouldy bread, peanut butter, malt (not honey), suet (animal or vegetable), raisins or sultanas, any other cereal that isn't full of sugar - like weetbix.

Some things that are bad for birds and you should try to avoid : Avocado, salt, honey (use malt instead), anything mouldy.

I used some stale bread crusts, peanut butter and some malt. Add all your ingredients into a saucepan and warm over a low heat. One of your ingredients will need to be a "binary" ingredient like malt, peanut butter or suet.

 It will look like a big sticky mess! With wet/damp hands roll into balls, then roll in Wild bird seed.

Pop in the fridge to firm up! Then you can pop them into your feeder, either by themselves or with some loose seed. It's better not to put too much out all at once, but top up regularly as needed.

Sit back and enjoy the sound of happy birds in your garden!

I really hope you have a go, either with this rustic feeder or one of the others that I've made over the years (links at the top of this post). Many birds do die over Winter months when food becomes scarce, feed the birds!

Don't forget to hop along to Stella's blog tomorrow to see what she's been up to!


  1. Love this! I have some vines in the garden which I can use. I will give this a go over the weekend and let you know how I get on. Will make sure this is up high too, my boys would love those seed balls! xo

  2. Awesome! and I love the rustic wreath look to this :) The birds will love this!!

  3. Awesome Louana - I have some grape-vine prunings which will be perfect for this! Did you get your bird seed from the supermarket? L xx

  4. Louana I love this! And the photos are lovely! I have a suspicion we will just be feeding mynahs if we make one of these, but I would like to have a go anyway...

  5. This is awesome - so cool! what a clever idea and project!

  6. I love it - I love the idea of it & I love how it looks ... all kind of rusticy hanging in the trees as I hate bright shiny birdfeeders that stick out at you !!! Thanks for a great tutorial Louana & also the bird seed balls sound a great idea. Shall have a go this weekend :-)

  7. Louana, this is awesome!! I love it... xx

  8. Its really lovely, like a wee birds nest. I had the problem with rain in my coconut halves last year, so claud gave me a bought bird feeder for mothersday, but whilst its popular with goldfinches (i think thats what they are-they dont look like any of the birds in my guide?!!) it doesnt look that nice. Totes gonna make one of these x

  9. I love this - I think we'll have to try it with our family. What a great idea for a tutorial too! :o) x

  10. Oh Louana, these are perfect! We are definitely going to have to make one of these, the kids will love it!
    Thank you for taking part in Matariki Crafting :-)

  11. I love this but as much as I would love to encourage birds into my garden one of my cats is a hunter and I don't like the parcels he brings me

  12. Perfect! We saved some fat from cooking some meat the other day and i was planning to use it to "bind" some seeds for a bird feeder - I LOVE the twiggy-nest to put them in. We might have to go for a walk to find some willow branches

  13. you are clever. lucky bird in your neighbourhood!

  14. How cool, it looks like a giant bird's nest! I make bird puddings from wild bird seed (from Bin Inn) mixed with melted fat balls (from the Mad Butcher), they are cheap and the birds seem to love them! I also give them plain popcorn. I have 2 feeders already but next time I need one I'll be trying your tutorial!

  15. I love the idea of the nest...I am sure the birds loved the treats too. xx

  16. Our Living World, Science curriculum bird feeder idea has just been bookmarked!!! Many thanks from this teacher! :)

  17. Hi there, I wanted to know if we could use this great bird feeder idea in newsletter I am doing. We will of course advise acknowledge that it is yours and have a link back to your site.


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