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Kids' Craft: How to Make a Simple Bird Feeder With a Milk Carton or Jug

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Homemade bird feeder

Homemade bird feeder

How to Build a Milk Jug Bird Feeder

Materials Needed:

  • Clean and dry milk container
  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker
  • String
  • Decorations
  • Birdseed

Instructions for the Simple Bird Feeder

Step 1: Remove labels and thoroughly clean containers with warm soapy water. Rinse well. Make sure they are completely dry.

Step 2: Draw a circle using a permanent marker. I used a permanent marker because washable markers and dry erase markers didn't show up well on the containers and they rubbed off easily.

Step 3: Using a utility knife, puncture the container along the circle lines. Make the puncture wide enough to fit the scissors in. Use the scissors to cut out the rest of the circle. Recycle the circles.

Step 4: Attach string to the container. In one of mine, I made a small hole in the lid and pushed the knotted end of the string through the hole. I glued the string to the inside of the lid and then glued the lid onto the container. For the second container, I simply tied the string to the handle. Both will hold up well.

Step 5: Decorate! We used foam stickers to decorate. They stay on well and don't come off in the rain. You can use non-toxic markers, paint or other kinds of stickers to decorate, but your feeder may need to be kept in a covered area of your yard, such as on a porch, to keep it dry.

Step 6: Fill the bottom of the container with birdseed. Don't use too much; the birds only eat a few seeds at a time and you could end up wasting the rest of the seed when you need to clean the container. For the birdseed, we used a wild birdseed mix, but you can use any kind to attract the birds you'd like to see.

Step 7: Find a place to hang your feeder. We chose two tree branches just outside of our fence (there's a small wooded area next to our house) where we could see them from our living room and kitchen windows. They're also out of the reach of the kids and the dog, which is important if you want to attract the birds and not scare them away.

Tips for Parents

  • Make sure the containers are completely dry. If not, the seed can get moldy.
  • Do not allow kids to use the utility knife! Depending on age, kids can use scissors to cut out the holes.
  • We used foam stickers to decorate, of which I had extra from a different project. You can use markers, paints or other kinds of stickers, but just make sure they are non-toxic to birds!
  • Clean the container and change the seed once a week to keep it fresh. Again, make sure the container is dry before adding more seed. Also, it's only necessary to fill the bottom of the container. Anything more might end up wasted.
Cardinals come to eat from our bird feeder. They are pretty common around here.

Cardinals come to eat from our bird feeder. They are pretty common around here.

Bird Watching: What Birds Visit Your Feeder?

It's a lot of fun for the kids to watch the birds eat from the feeder, but as a bonus for parents, it can be educational as well. Simply pointing out the different shapes and colors of the birds can be educational. Pointing out how the birds eat and interact with eat other can be educational as well.

Even more educational for kids would be to name the types of birds that visit your feeder. After we set our feeders up, my son and I would sit in the windows and take pictures and videos of the birds that visited. We took the pictures and compared them to pictures of birds we found online.

We have learned that our feeders have attracted American robins, blue jays, a house finch, and lots of chickadees. It's great to hear my son, a three-year-old, name the birds now as he sees them in the feeders!

© 2012 Marissa


Marissa (author) from United States on November 06, 2012:

Angelo52, thanks! It was a fun project for the kids too. :)

Angelo52 on November 06, 2012:

Nice way to use up a couple of empty plastic jugs and help the birds survive.

Marissa (author) from United States on May 02, 2012:

chrissieklinger, thanks so much! I'm glad you liked the video. Have fun making the bird feeders! :)

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on May 01, 2012:

I love this video. I will definitely be trying this project with my children this spring!

Marissa (author) from United States on April 22, 2012:

jewls, thank you very much for watching the video! I'm glad you liked it. Come back to let me know how the feeders turn out! :)

jewls on April 22, 2012:

Thank you for sharing with us, enjoyed the video and going to make some feeders this week..... :-)

johnakc from New Delhi on April 21, 2012:

You are welcome.. :)

Marissa (author) from United States on April 21, 2012:

johnakc, glad you like it! Thanks for stopping by!

johnakc from New Delhi on April 21, 2012:

Nice idea, I like it..

Marissa (author) from United States on March 30, 2012:

IzzyM, thank you so much! I made a ton of bird feeders like that as a kid; I think I learned it in Girl Scouts. It's a fun project to do, especially for kids.

It took me a day of sitting in front of my computer to learn how to make the videos to post them online. I just wish the actual video included in this one didn't include a screeching toddler in the background, but that's life!

Thank you very much for watching and commenting!

IzzyM from UK on March 30, 2012:

Loved the idea on how to make a simple bird feeder! I could learn a thing or two about making videos from you too. Great job!

Marissa (author) from United States on March 25, 2012:

teaches12345, I too love the cardinals. I agree about teaching kids the importance of caring for other creatures. My son loves to watch the birds and 'help' them with their food. :) Thanks for watching!

Dianna Mendez on March 25, 2012:

I just love the photo of the cardinal in the tree. They are such pretty birds to watch and hear sing. This is a great craft for children to help make as it also teaches them the importance of caring for our little bird friends. Great sharing!

Marissa (author) from United States on March 24, 2012:

Sherry Hewins, thank you! I enjoyed making the project and the video. :)

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on March 24, 2012:

Good idea, you did a great job on the video.