Make an Upcycled Window Bird Feeder from a Milk Carton

Window Bird Feeder

Window Bird Feeder

Feeding the birds is great for making your yard a wildlife-friendly natural habitat, but you know that much of the fun in it comes from the ability to watch those beautiful birds enjoying themselves at your bird feeders. With this window bird feeder, you can do that without leaving the comfort of your couch!

Since this window bird feeder is also made from a used milk or juice carton, you’ve got the added bonus of diverting something from the waste stream to meet your needs, rather than buying something new. At the end of the season, put the carton back in the waste stream, saving yourself the chores of sanitizing and storing it, and then make yourself a new set of window bird feeders in the spring.

See? Upcycling is even easier than buying new!

To make this window bird feeder, you will need:

half-gallon milk or juice carton.Β Whenever I’ve done this project with my own kids, we’ve always used waxed cardboard cartons. However, when I did this recently with my Girl Scout troop, I neglected to specify exactly what type of half-gallon carton I wanted, and so some kids showed up with half-gallon plastic jugs. To my happy surprise, they worked just as well to make bird feeders–perhaps even better!

x-acto knife and sharp scissors.Β You can complete the entire project quite easily with just the x-acto knife, but if you’re not comfortable using one, you can use it to make all of the initial cuts and then finish each one with the scissors.

twig.Β The birds need something to stand on while they munch!

suction cup with a hook.Β This is the one item that you may have to buy, although you might find that you have a suction cup hanging around somewhere that you can repurpose.

1. Cut a window out of the front and back of the carton.Β Leave enough of a lip at the bottom of the carton to hold the birdseed, but otherwise make your windows nice and large–the bird will be eating out of one window, and you’ll be looking in the other!

Window Bird Feeder

2. Cut a hole in the bottom front of the carton and insert a twig.Β Depending on how long your twig is, you may want to cut another hole opposite in the back of the carton and push the twig all the way through the carton from front to back. Doing so will make the twig more stable, but it can’t stick out very far in the back, or it won’t hang straight from the window. I’ve done bird feeders both ways, and although I prefer making two holes and pushing the twig all the way through, some kids in my Girl Scout troop preferred to make just one hole, and their twigs seemed to do just fine.

3. Cut a hole in the top back of the carton and insert the suction cup hook.Β You can mount the suction cup to any clean glass surface (this is a great excuse to get the kids to wash the windows!), and if you’ve chosen a good-quality suction cup, you shouldn’t have to worry about it falling off.

The one disadvantage to this kind of bird feeder is that it’s obvious that it’s a milk carton. If that bothers you, you can always experiment with painting and sealing it, but I don’t like to add any extra chemicals or non-food materials to these bird feeders. And when you’re looking through your kitchen window at a bird happily eating seed from your bird feeder, neither of you are going to care that it’s a juice carton that it’s eating from!

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