After what I refer to as “Birdpocalypse 2016” took place, I’ve needed a new bird feeder. I filled my Terra Cotta Bird Feeder with peanuts and every Stellar’s Jay in Oregon came to my house. This alerted the squirrels that there was something tasty hanging in that bowl. Before I knew it, I saw tiny little hands grabbing at twine from my roof, trying to pull the bowl up to them. The bowl went toppling out of the hanger and the clay broke off the bowl. It could have been salvaged, had I not feared for my life if I had gone to retrieve the bowl. Then I pushed the whole ordeal out of my mind and the bowl was rendered too disgusting even for birds when I finally got around to picking the mess up.
So, I decided to make a bird feeder for the nicer, little birds in my neighborhood. Mesh seemed perfect, and I wanted to dress it up a little bit by giving it a cute toadstool lid. This feeder is fun to see hanging outside my window, and I hope it will keep the little birds at my house happy and well fed!
What You Need:
- Walnut Hollow Basswood Country Round Medium Plaque
- Walnut Hollow Birch Circle Value Plaque
- Styrofoam Half Ball 6 in.
- 1/4 in. x 1/8 in. Wire Mesh (1/4 x 1/4 in. will work too, just use slightly larger seed)
- Air-Hardening Clay
- Acrylic Paint in Red and White
- E6000 or Outdoor Wood Glue
- 550 Parachute Cord
- Jump Rings
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Paint Brush (Large and Detail)
- Thumbtacks (Flat top preferred)
- Drill with 5/16 inch and 5/32 inch bits
How to Make It:
Use your ruler to measure and mark 2 holes about 1/2 inch apart in the center the Circle Value Plaque. Drill using your 5/32 inch bit. (You’ll notice the following pictures don’t have holes in the plaque, you’re learning from my mistake. It was hard to drill through the glue!)
Attach the styrofoam half ball on top of the plaque, centered as best you can. Let dry for a few hours to overnight.
Drill from the bottom of your already existing hole through the styrofoam. If the drill bit doesn’t go all the way through, use a metal skewer, crochet hook, or knitting needle to make a hole all the way through.
Mark out the exact center of your plaque with a pencil, and drill a hole with your 5/16 inch bit. You’re done with the power tools!
Roll out some clay to about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick, keeping it as even as possible. You’ll also want to roll out a “snake” that can wrap around the bottom of your toadstool, where the mushroom meets the wood.
Lay your snake around the seam between the styrofoam and the wood. Then, lay your flat piece of clay over the whole thing. Wet your hands and smooth out the clay to the best of your abilities. Wrap it around the top and underneath as needed.
Use your skewer or other round, skinny object to poke holes through the clay where you drilled. Let dry at least overnight. You’ll also want to flip it over and let the base dry if you have a lot of clay underneath your plaque.
Once it’s dry, sand out any lumps, and paint the whole thing white. Not totally necessary since the clay is white, but it does give everything a more even tone. Let dry.
Mark out your spots (If you can freehand with a detail brush and the red paint, that might be ideal, the pencil marks were hard to cover up!) and paint around them in the red with your small and big paint brushes. Let dry.
At this point, you’ll probably want to put on a pair of gardening gloves or something if you want to prevent your hands from looking like a cat attacked them. Mine sure do. Take your wire mesh and cut it down to a 12 x 12 inch square. Fold over one side about an inch and one side next to it about 1/2 inch so the folded sides make an “L” shape. Now cut slits about 1/2 – 1 inch long along the side opposite your 1 inch folded side. Each slit was about 1 inch apart.
Start at the side of your mesh that isn’t folded and flatten the first tab against the wood plaque. Push a thumbtack through a hole in the mesh and the wood. Continue all the way around in as even a circle as you can manage. You can kind of “fluff” the mesh as you go to make it a little more rounded. Be very careful, the mesh is delicate and can be ripped easily. Once you get to the last tab, make sure your folded side overlaps the cut side so you don’t hurt any birds with the sharp and scratchy ends!
Secure the seam with a few jump rings through both layers of mesh.
Cut your parachute cord to about 36 inches. Thread either end through the holes in your mushroom top. In order to get it through, I taped the cord to a steel crochet hook and was able to pull the whole thing through.
Take both ends through the inside of the wire mesh and through the hole in the wood plaque. Pull it through the bottom. Measure how long you’d like the feeder and make a knot at the bottom when you’re happy with the way it hangs. Hold it up to judge the length again before you cut it.
Once you’re happy, cut the paracord and singe the edges and around the knot to make sure it doesn’t untie.
Your mushroom is ready to feed the birds! Use a smaller seed like Nyjer. I used a mixed bird seed and there are definitely some pieces that won’t fit through the mesh, and some that just fall right out. To fill, lift the mushroom top off the mesh and pour the seed so it fills up around the cord.
The feeder is pretty heavy when it’s full, so make sure you’ve got a good sized screw to hold it up!
(I chose not to use any sealer materials on my feeder to make sure I didn’t harm the birds. I’m pretty confident that as long as I had avoided the mesh itself, Outdoor Mod Podge on the mushroom cap and around the wood plaque would be okay and help the feeder last longer.)