This One is for The Birds (and their human admirers)

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Published on: Mar. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 21, 2010

Rocks, an old toaster, baseball bats, a chrome hubcap, a coconut, a broken aluminum thermos and sundry jars, bottles and pans. Does this sound like the contents of a box you've been meaning to sort through since you moved 4 years ago? Is it a list of clutter in your garage where the car is supposed to go? Junk to toss into the tall grass out back?

Could be, but if you can muster imagination, and maybe some wire, you'll recognize this list for what it really is: materials for making perfect, one-of-a-kind bird feeders. In the December '94 issue of the Conservationist, we invited readers to send us pictures and descriptions of their favorite bird feeders. Scores of Missourians - people who see great bird feeder potential in broken skillets, rusty mailboxes and wet concrete - responded with enthusiasm and authority.

No matter what size city you live in, or spot of ground you have to call your own, hanging up a bird feeder is an easy way to come in contact with the natural world. Birds are beautiful, amusing and companionable. Building the right feeder for them, as many letter-writers told us, can be as simple or elaborate an endeavor as you choose.

About 85 percent of bird feeder architects we heard from described the ease and satisfaction gained by recycling stuff, turning it into just the thing for cardinals, titmice and, grudgingly, squirrels. Two skillets (with holes drilled through the centers for a post) work well for Joanna Charleville from Pontiac. Plenty of readers suggested making feeders out of 2-liter soda, bleach and dish soap bottles. The champion of all recyclers perhaps is Henry Raab from Belleville, Ill. He used an aluminum hanging lamp shade, plastic popcorn popper, cookie serving tray, clothes dryer vent, cast-off galvanized pipe and pieces of wood - all for one feeder.

Marie Cazaux, a resident of Festus, found a way to recycle a broken thermos. She removed the glass shards, drilled holes horizontally through the thermos canister and placed two long bolts through the holes. The bolts, held in place with nuts at each end, extend beyond the sides of the thermos and serve as perches for birds. She drilled feeding holes just above the perches.

Cazaux recommends filling the thermos feeder with small seed or thistle but says large seeds work if the feeding holes are sized accordingly. She says a section of old stovepipe, in place

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