Recycle And Feed The Birds! March 21 2010


On a day early in the spring, I was walking in my neighborhood and saw an unusual birdhouse hanging from a shepherd's hook in my neighbor's front yard. The birdhouse was an old-fashioned, Victorian-style boot with a hole drilled into the side of it and a small dowel underneath the hole on which birds could perch.

Inspired by the boot birdhouse, I fashioned this bird feeder that makes use of old, worn-out shoes and provides a yummy snack for our neighborhood birds!


One well-loved shoe (per person) that requires lacing
Yarn or heavy string, only if shoes no longer have their laces
Half a bagel for each person
Peanut butter, about 2 tablespoons per person
Bird seed, 1/2 to 1 cup per person

How To Make The Bird Feeder

1. If the shoe for the bird feeder doesn't have laces, provide a three to four foot length of yarn or heavy string per shoe. Most shoes have the tab on top of the tongue. Lace the shoe about halfway, then draw both laces through the tab. If there isn't a tab, wind the laces around the tongue once or twice - this will help hold the tongue of the shoe back when it's hung up.

2. Cut the bagel in half as if you were going to pop it in the toaster. Instead of doing that, spread the peanut butter onto the half of the bagel so that it makes a thick layer. 

Flip the peanut-buttered side of the bagel onto the pile of bird seed and make sure the peanut butter is well-coated with it.

3. Place the bagel - bird seed side out - into the heel part of the shoe. It should fit snugly inside. If the shoe is really small, try cutting the half-bagel into a quarter-bagel, which should fit.

Find an appropriate place to hang your unusual bird feeder. I hung mine off a hook on the back porch. Before I knew it, I had a colorful array of visitors and the bird seed was gone!

Check the bird feeder frequently to replace the bagel with a fresh one, coated with peanut butter and bird seed.

Enhanced Bird Feeders

I didn't paint or otherwise decorate my shoe bird feeder, and I have to admit it could use a bit of color. When your kids do this project in the classroom, provide paint and markers for children to use to brighten up their recycled bird feeders. I'm not sure how well standard glue would hold colorful buttons, paper or beads, but I'm sure a glue gun would help with that nicely!

If possible, try to also have your kids bring in different materials to use as decorations on their bird feeders, which is also a form of recycling. Make a list on chart paper regarding what materials might work - for example, rinsed juice pouches cut into pieces would make shiny decorations - and hang the list in your classroom. On the day of the project, have your class vote on who brought the most unusual recyclable material to decorate their shoe bird feeder, and give that student a prize!

This is a great project as spring warms us up and brings our neighborhood birds back. Welcome them with this homemade, recycled bird feeder, and keep stuff out of the landfills while you're at it!