An egg carton bird feeder is a fast, easy, inexpensive project perfect not only for kids to make, but also for backyard birders of all ages to enjoy. With just a few around the house materials, it is possible to recycle a piece of trash into a treasure that backyard birds will love.
Choosing the Egg Carton
Any size or material of egg carton can be used for this project, so long as it has the individual half cups to hold the eggs. Paper or cardboard cartons are preferred because they are more easily biodegradable, but a foam or plastic carton can also be used. Cartons from any size eggs – medium, large or extra-large – are useful, but ideally the best capacity is a 6-12 egg carton; larger cartons become more flexible and may bend, break or spill when used by a larger flock of birds.
In addition to the carton, strong string or twine is needed to hang the feeder. Fishing line is not recommended, however, because it is harder for birds to see and could present a tangle hazard as birds feed.
Prepare Your Carton
Very little needs to be done to prepare an old egg carton to become a new bird feeder. First, use scissors to trim off the lid and discard it, either in the trash, a recycling bin or a compost pile if suitable. If desired, non-toxic paint or markers can be used to decorate the exterior of the carton, but do not color the inside of the egg cups. If the carton is a larger or longer one, now is the time to trim it into smaller chunks for sturdier feeders, but leave multiple rows of egg cups as part of each section so they can be hung securely.
Cut the string or twine into 3-4 foot sections; each feeder will need 2-3 sections for hanging. Tightly knot each piece into a large loop. The loops can then be settled underneath the feeder between two rows of egg cups to keep them in place and to provide more support to the carton. A 6-egg carton will use two loops of string, and a longer carton will use three. Loops can be positioned either parallel or perpendicular to one another, so long as they are the same length when extended so the feeder can hang securely. A small piece of string or twine can be used to tie the loops together at the top, creating a safe, sturdy "swing" that holds the feeder.
The last step is to fill the feeder, which can be done either before or after it is hung. The cups can easily hold a variety of different foods, including different types of birdseed, peanuts, bits of fruit, dried mealworms or peanut butter mixed with seed. Suet shreds, chunks or crumbles can be used in cool weather, but during the hottest months of summer melting suet can soak through a cardboard carton feeder. Live mealworms should also not be added to this type of feeder, since the rough texture of the carton is ideal for them to use for climbing and they can readily escape before birds eat all the treats.
Hanging the Feeder
This simple feeder can be hung from a plant or garden hook or a convenient branch. Be sure the feeder hangs level, it is best to place it in a sheltered area or use a wide baffle above the feeder since the individual cups do not have drainage. Excessive water can also cause a cardboard carton to soften and rips or spills are more likely. In dry climates, however, these feeders can last for quite some time and can be easily refilled when empty.
Cleaning an Egg Carton Bird Feeder
All bird feeders need regular cleaning to prevent spreading diseases that can infect entire hungry flocks, but the cleanup with an egg carton bird feeder is simple – while it can be refilled once or twice without difficulty, when it gets dirty just toss it into the trash, recycle it or add it to a compost pile. The loops of string or twine can be removed, rinsed clean and reused to quickly turn the next empty egg carton into an easy bird feeder, or they can be recycled or composted as well.
An empty egg carton may seem like just another piece of trash, but to a savvy and frugal-minded backyard birder, it's an easy bird feeder with plenty of space to accommodate different foods to sate the appetites of different hungry birds. Turn your next egg carton into a feeder in just minutes, and enjoy hours of entertainment from your backyard birds!
Photo – Egg Cartons © Ralph Aichinger