Build Your Own Bird Feeder

Make a bird feeder out of recycled materials to foster both plants and wildlife.

About the Activity

Wildlife and gardening go together like s’mores at a campfire. Without plants, wildlife would not exist, and without wildlife, plants would not exist. They work together and support the circle of life. Learn how you can support both by making a bird feeder using recyclable and compostable materials.

This activity is part of our 4-H At-Home Garden Series. See the rest of the activities here.

Grades: 3-8
Topic: STEM, Biology
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Brought to you by Prairie View A&M University; Cooperative Extension Program, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

A bird sitting on a branch


These simple supplies are all you’ll need for this activity. Some of these, like the seeds, you may need to find at a plant store:

  • Toilet paper roll or paper towel roll
  • Peanut butter or glue
  • Bird seeds
  • Yarn/string
  • Plate
  • Butter knife
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Activity Steps

  1. Set up your workstation with a plate and a butter knife.Did you know? Decomposers like earthworms and Roly-Poly bugs are so important for gardening because they decompose organic materials and break it down in the best soil you can get, usually called “Black Gold.”
  2. Pour the bird seeds on to the plate.Did you know? Some examples of pollinators are bees, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even lizards! They play an important role in gardening, because if a flower is not pollinated, plants cannot produce fruit or seeds.
A bird with a piece of food in it's beak
  1. Grab your toilet paper or paper towel roll and cover it with peanut butter using a butter knife. If you do not have peanut butter, glue will work too! Did you know? Toilet paper and paper towel rolls are made of cardboard, which is totally compostable! In fact, cardboard is one of the decomposer’s favorite snacks!
  2. After your roll is covered in peanut butter or glue, completely cover it with the bird seeds so the seeds stick to the surface.Did you know? Plants provide shelter for wildlife; they can be a place to lay eggs, an important food source, and protection from other predators or severe weather.
  3. Put a piece of yarn or a string through the roll, and hang it somewhere near your garden, like from a tree branch!Did you know? Wildlife can spread plant seeds through their scat or poop. If you ever see a strange plant growing in a strange area, it probably got there from an animal’s scat.
  4. Hang back, and watch the birds flock to your recycled bird feeder!Did you know? If you ever see a pollinator like a bee or a butterfly in your garden, don’t bother them, and don’t be afraid! Their job is to gather food and to pollinate. They are not out there to hurt you!

Reflection Questions
Bonus questions to inspire wonder:

  1. How do wildlife and plants benefit each other?
  2. Can wildlife that could hurt plants? If so, how?
  3. What would happen if no one pollinated plants? Think of everyday items that would be affected by it.
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Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.

Our actions influence so much in our environment. It’s up to us to help our plants and wildlife. Let's learn to appreciate nature!

If you see a bee, let them work so that way we can continue to have food on our plate and clothes on our back. If you see trash heading for a water source, pick it up and keep plants and animals from getting hurt.

Once your garden is up and growing, spend time looking at it to see all the different kinds of wildlife that interact with your garden!

A bee sitting on a flower

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No endorsement of these supporters' products or services is granted or implied by 4‑H. This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, AFRI - Education and Workforce Development project 2021-67037-33376.9

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