For a fast and easy pumpkin bird feeder, try a simple carved feeder. This project is perfect for using either a fresh, new pumpkin or to recycle a pumpkin that has already been carved for Halloween. In just a few simple steps, you can turn a colorful pumpkin into a generous, practical bird feeder all your fall backyard birds will enjoy.
Choosing the Pumpkin
Any size pumpkin can be used for this bird feeder project, but the best shapes are pumpkins with a relatively round body slightly wider than it is tall. This will give the finished feeder better balance with more surface area for feeding birds to perch, without sacrificing the capacity necessary to feed many birds. Small to medium-sized pumpkins are also preferred, because they hold a good quantity of seed without holding so much that the pumpkin will rot before the birds are finished with the seed supply.
Making the Feeder
In addition to a pumpkin of the proper size and shape, you will need a pumpkin carving kit or suitable knife for slicing through the pumpkin as well as a scoop or spoon to hollow out the fruit and remove the seeds.
To make a carved pumpkin bird feeder:
- Clean the pumpkin by carefully wiping the sides with a damp sponge or rag to remove dirt and debris.
- Carefully slice the pumpkin in half horizontally, with the stem on one half and the base on the other. If you are using a fresh pumpkin, you can trim the stem as small as possible to use both halves as separate feeders, but if the pumpkin has already been carved, discard the top half with the cut lid or add it to a compost pile. If desired, make the slice slightly angled so one side of the pumpkin half is lower to the ground than the other, which will give ground feeding birds better access to the feeder.
- Remove the pumpkin seeds and smooth the edges of the feeder with the spoon or scoop. The raw seeds can be fed to the birds or can be roasted with different seasonings and spices for a tasty autumn treat. If the pumpkin was already hollowed and used with a candle, scrape the bottom to remove any traces of wax or ash.
- Thin the cut edges of the pumpkin (on just the bottom half if the top has been discarded, or on both halves if making two feeders) by making additional shallow cuts on the inside to remove more fruit. This gives birds an easier place to perch, especially if the fruit's flesh is thick. If desired, make the cuts in curves or jagged lines for more decorative interest.
- Fill the basin of the feeder with whatever foods you wish to offer your backyard birds: birdseed, peanuts, suet chunks, mealworms and fruit are all great choices depending on which birds you want to feed.
Because a carved pumpkin rots more quickly than one that is still whole, it is best to make this bird feeder only after the weather has turned cool. In very cold areas, it is possible to freeze the pumpkin halves after cutting so they will last longer. If carved pumpkins rot too quickly in your climate, consider using your fall pumpkins to make an instant pumpkin bird feeder instead.
This simple bird feeder can be used anywhere you would normally use tray or platform feeders. They are a colorful accent to flowerbeds, or can be placed on a deck, porch or patio. If you use hay bales as part of your outdoor fall decorations, placing one of these feeders in the corner between two intersecting bales or on top of a hay pile adds a touch of color and active bird interest. A pile of whole pumpkins can also be easily accented with the addition of a carved pumpkin bird feeder. Note: Placing the feeder in the shade will help it last longer.
A fast and easy project perfect for fall bird feeding, carved pumpkin bird feeders are large, versatile bird feeders that can accommodate many different types of food and many different feeding birds. Put your pumpkins to use long after Halloween with these simple steps, and give the birds an autumn treat!
Photo – Blue-Winged Mountain Tanager on Pumpkin Feeder © Benny Mazur