October 4, 2018

My Buy Nothing Bird Feeder

When I have a project in mind, one of the first questions I ask myself is "will this require me to buy anything, or can I make do with what I have around me?" That is the challenge that I like to take on. 

So it was when I wanted to set up a bird feeder that could be seen from one of our windows, since we don't have trees or bushes close to our house. 

I calculated what it would cost to get the job done if I bought everything:

- bird feeder hanger pole $45.00
- feeders to hang on pole $50.00
- bag of sunflower seeds $34.00

Total - $129.00
With Tax - $148.35

Then I looked at the resources I had available around me:

- three long sticks (from the woods)
- 2 large twist ties (saved from heads of celery)
- several large sunflowers that we grew this year 

Total cost: Free 

Other benefits: no driving, and no shopping. No packaging to throw away. My feeder is biodegradable, and therefore easily disposed without harm. Even better, I had a pleasant walk in the woods while looking for suitable poles.

To make the feeder, I formed a tripod, securing it with a twist tie. Then I cut a sunflower with a bit of stem attached, and secured it to the tripod with another twist tie. The apparatus was set up by a window so we could watch the birds from our living room. 

When it comes to bird feeders "build it and they will come" usually applies. Sure enough, after a few days we saw our first visitor, a blue jay. 

Jays are fun to watch because unlike most birds, they have crops (expandable pouches in their neck) that they fill with seeds until their cheeks are bulging. Then they take those seeds and cache them for future meals.

Soon more jays came. They quickly stripped the first sunflower of all seeds, and a second went on. The birds did not seem to care that they were getting food from a makeshift frugal feeder.

The Buy Nothing Challenge: before buying anything, first ask yourself if you can get the job done with resources you have at hand. 

Use your imagination. 

Be creative. 

Have fun. 

Keep your money for other things.


  1. Very clever and better looking than most bird feeders in the store.

  2. Brilliant! I agree with the other commentor that it looks better than a store bought feeder, very organic.

  3. Melissa and Marla,

    Thank you. It's my functional sculpture made from natural and found objects. I was thinking of replacing the twist ties with pole bean vines to make it all natural/organic.


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