By Liz Swafford
Spring is here! Of course, with the exception of a few chilly, snowy flurries earlier this week. It seems that Georgia’s spring predicting groundhog, Gen. Beauregard Lee, was right when he predicted an additional six weeks of winter back on Feb. 2. So much for the predictions of renowned groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. Sorry Phil, better luck next year.
Despite the sudden chill, birds are still out and about chirping while visiting trees and flowers already in bloom. Warmer days are coming back soon, so it’s time to do some springtime crafting to welcome this season and help some of our feathered friends through this short cold snap.
Milk carton birdhouse
Finished drinking that quart of orange juice or milk? Good! Rinse the carton out and pat it dry. A quart-sized gable milk carton is the first piece of this upcycled birdhouse. You’ll also need a marker, scissors or crafting knife, hole puncher or screwdriver, masking tape or packing tape, glue, twine and a twig or pencil. Depending on how you want to decorate it, you’ll also want some masking tape, shoe polish and cloth, or paint brushes and non-toxic paints.
If your carton has a screw-on lid on the side of the gable you’re ready to start. However, if you have a carton with a pour spout that has been opened you’ll need to staple it shut. Using a hole punch, make a hole in the center of the very top tab of the carton where the container’s spout is closed. This is where you’ll later loop some twine to hang the house in a tree.
Next, lay the carton on a flat surface facing up. Draw a two-and-a-half-inch circle in the middle of the front panel of the carton. Using scissors or a craft knife, cut out the circle. This will be the opening to the birdhouse. Half an inch below the opening, punch a small hole with a hole punch or screwdriver. That one will be for the twig or pencil you’ve chosen for a perch.
Put a pencil or pen through that small opening and draw a dot on the back panel so you know where to punch the hole for the back panel. Now you’ll have two holes that will help hold the perch up evenly.
To finish up, punch four holes on the bottom of the carton that will be for drainage. Now you can add the twig or pencil perch, and tie some twine through the hole at the very top. For extra support, glue the perch to the carton. The basic birdhouse is finished and can now be hung outside as is. But if you feel that it’s in sore need of some décor, here are two options.
For a bark look, cover the whole carton with pieces of masking tape that are slightly overlapping. If you have shoe polish, put some on a cloth and rub it on to the masking tape- covered carton. The tape will take on the look of tree bark. Let it dry before taking it outside. If you’re feeling much more creative, paint the carton with non-toxic paints, add stickers or other embellishments. Then, cover the entire carton with packing tape to protect the design from the rain.
Milk carton bird feeder
Have a second milk or juice carton handy? Try this really simple bird feeder craft. Like before, empty, rinse and dry the carton. You’ll also need scissors or a craft knife, screwdriver or hole puncher, twine and bird seed. If your carton has a screw-on lid on the side of the gable you’re ready to start. However, if you have a carton with a pour spout that has been opened you’ll need to staple it shut.
Place the carton on a flat surface with the front facing up. Draw two parallel lines horizontally across the front of the carton about three inches apart. Then extend the lines to the side panels by one inch on each side. On the side panel, connect the parallel lines by drawing a vertical straight line. Cut out the rectangular shape following the lines you drew. You’ll have a large opening that extends to the sides.
Finally, punch a hole in the center of the top tab of the container, above the gable. Thread a piece of twine, one to two feet long, through the hole at the top and tie a knot. Fill the bottom of the carton with birdseed and hang it up outside. If you like you can decorate the feeder following the instructions for the birdhouse.
Almost any type of container can be transformed into a birdhouse or feeder. The idea is to reuse what we have by upcycling before recycling. Either way, we use our resources multiple times and benefit the environment in our community.
Liz Swafford is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or email@example.com.