Birdwatching or ' Birding' as it is also known, isn't a hobby just for the enjoyment of binocular-toting enthusiasts who stalk birds in the wild. Suburban dwellers can bring these winged wonders into their own backyard with a little crafty know-how.
A home made bird-feeder is a cheap and enjoyable way of enticing the desirable breeds to be comfortable with human company, hopefully without inviting every mangy, scavenging screecher to start nesting on your porch. The type of guests you encourage can be managed by being controlled about what you offer the birds to feed on. Throwing out fatty scraps like hot chips and last night's Mc Donald's left-overs, may only attract the local seagulls and is not advised if your neighbourhood wishes to keep it's inhabitants healthy.
Seed mixes that can be purchased at the local supermarket are best, as long as specifically tailored to their target audience and refreshed daily so they don't become rancid. Fresh produce like apple and carrot are also popular with birds such as Lorikeets.
With a quick search of the recycling for a large square water bottle or similar vessel, a wooden spoon, some glue, a sharp small saw or knife, some paddle-pop sticks and wooden pegs, your backyard can become a birdie haven.
Start by Cleaning out your bottle thoroughly so no toxins are left. Large Mount Franklin Water bottles like the one shown are perfect, as they not only have an in-built hanger but also a slanted roof top near the lid. Obviously this size bottle is best for luring smaller breeds as, a cockatoo for example, wouldn't fit within the confines of the bottle. However if you are acquainted with the cockatoo you would know they are happier to destroy your citrus trees, than peck at seed anyway.
Take a Stanley knife, if handy, or a pair of sharp scissors and cut a rectangle window on one side of the bottle, leaving a lip at the bottom where the seed will be contained. Repeat on opposite side. Beware that you don't make the window too wide as this will compromise the integrity and strength of the feeder.
With scissors, carefully snip a small cut in the remaining two sides through which the wooden spoon can be threaded. Use the spoon handle to open up the slit to the required size so you don't end up with the entrance being too big. The spoon head allows for seed to be placed outside the perch as a secondary seed holder but you can take a small saw or knife and cut the spoon head off to leave a traditional perch, if preferred.
Purely for aesthetic purposes, take eight paddle-pop sticks to create a square framework for a roof. Glue two sticks, one on top of the other. Repeat three more times so you have four double sticks. Now place in a square, corner to corner and glue. Weight down until dry so the square holds its strength. An extra strong wood or all purpose glue is best .
Once dry, place over the neck of the bottle. Use wooden pegs (as pictured) ,or any other creative material that might have the same effect, to glue or peg onto the paddle-pop stick frame to create a roof.
Your feeder is now ready for use. Fill to the lip or slightly under the perch with seed and hang with a cable tie in a position that the birds are drawn to. Balconies and fences are common. If your bottle is without a hanger, remove the lid and place a hole through the centre. Feed a piece of cord or string through the hole and tie inside the lid. This can now be hung by tying where desired. Alternatively, use coat hanger wire to fashion a similar hanger. Pliers may be needed for this.
This activity is a great way to engage children in both creating and exploring the native fauna and provides endless entertainment when the birds start to visit regularly.