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If you are looking for a cost-effective way to attract and feed the birds this winter, I highly recommend making yourself a stylish milk jug bird feeder. As you can guess from the title, you’ll need an empty milk jug (be sure to wash it out before starting). Together with some twine, a craft knife, and some paints, you can spend the afternoon creating something to lure in some feathered friends.

This craft is perfect no matter what your skill level, and you could be able to complete this craft in under an hour (not including the time you spend waiting for paint coats to dry). I also love how inexpensive it is to create something fresh, all in, this craft cost me around $20 (even less if you already have some of these materials on hand). Ready to get started?

Everything You Need To Get Started:

To make a milk jug bird feeder, you don't need a lot of materials!
You won’t need a whole lot to get started with this craft!
  • Empty and washed milk jug
  • Twine rope
  • Craft Knife (or Exacto Knife)
  • Twigs or popsicle sticks
  • Acrylic Craft Paint (or paint that will work on plastic)
  • Assorted paintbrushes (I used foam and then smaller detailed brushes as well)

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Bonus Research Tip

I recommend spending a little bit of time reading up on your native birds. Birds can be attracted and repelled by color, so if your local birds stay away from the color red, for example, you’ll want to avoid painting your feeder that color!

Try googling your region + “birds” and see what turns up. Another tip is to see if there is a local bird watching group and whether they’d be willing to offer up some valuable information for you if they have a website, even better!

If you aren’t sure, a safe bet is to select some earthy toned colors as they typically are viewed as safety to birds, whereas brighter colors can sometimes indicate toxins.

Prep Your Milk Jug

I start by washing the jug; you can just use dish soap. Fill it up and let it soak for a few minutes or hours. Rinse out and let air dry.

Once your milk jug is rinsed out, it's ready for cutting!
Once you’ve rinsed out your jug, let it air dry and then cut out the holes you need!

Next, you’ll want to take a marker (any permanent marker will do, like a Sharpie) and mark where you want to cut out some holes. You can use a craft knife, Exacto blade, or even a steak knife, just be careful and cut away from yourself!

Just Add Paint

I decided to go for a grave vine theme because I live in a wine-producing region of the world (Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada), and I figured it was a safe bet that the birds around here are used to seeing that sort of thing.

I started by painting the whole jug a beautiful lovely green. One or two coats is fine. I did one coat and then went over and fixed some patches that I missed the first time with my brush.

I started painting my feeder with green acrylic craft paint.
I started by painting my jug green all over!

Next, I used black paint and a small brush to paint in vines and some leaves. I have a few grapevines in my backyard, so I modeled the leaves somewhat after them.

Finally, I took some purple paint and another brush and just dotted in little grape “clusters” on the jug until I was happy with the look.

My milk jug is all viney and grapey now!
Here’s my grapey milk jug!!

Once everything was dry, you can use a clear acrylic sealer to save your paint job from the elements. If you are placing your feeder in a sheltered spot, you might be able to get away without it, though. Please do not place your bird seed in until it is all fully cured. I usually just let it dry for a day or two to be sure.

If grapevines aren’t your thing, be sure to check out this clever roundup post from Homesthetics for some painting inspiration! They have some other smart ideas to try for creating bird feeders as well.

Adding Some Twigs (Or “Perches”)

Once your paint is dry, you can cut smaller holes along the bottom to insert some twigs to act as perches for the birds. I have some trees on my property, so I foraged my own. Another option is to buy dried branches at your local Walmart or crafting store.

This is a perfect playground to forage for some twigs!
This is my foraging area for twigs!

Once you have your twigs, use your handy knife to gently poke large enough holes in the jug to insert the twigs.

Once your paint is dry, you can use a craft knife to poke a few "twig" holes in.
Use a craft knife to poke a few “twig” holes into your feeder.

How to Hang Your Milk Jug Bird Feeder

I see two options readily available to you when it comes time to hang your pretty and painted milk jug bird feeder. You could use the handle to hang it from a tree and use some good quality twine or rope to secure it on, or you could create a hanger from the lid.

If you’d like to take the lid hanging route, start by carefully drilling in two holes in the lid and loop your twine through those holes and then knot the top.

Next, you’ll want to glue that lid onto the jug; I recommend gorilla glue. I just dab a thin layer around the inside of the lid and pop that onto the jug and allow it to dry completely (Your package instructions will let you know how long it should take).

You’re ready to hang it up now!

Final Thoughts

I love using an old milk jug to make a bird feeder that will help encourage birds to hang around your property. Particularly in the winter when their food sources can be quite low, a feeder can assist them in surviving and thriving out in the wild.

All in, this craft cost me around $20, even if you consider that you have to buy and drink the milk! I spent about an hour or so on the painting, so the longest bit of this craft is waiting for coats of paint and glue to dry. It’s a perfect upcycling craft because you’re taking something you might toss in the recycling bin (or worse, the garbage) and creating something useful. For more upcycling ideas, be sure to check out my earlier post on the subject!

That is all for this week. I would greatly appreciate it if you could share this post on your favorite social media network by using one of the share buttons or pin it to Pinterest! If you tried this craft or have a question about it, let me know how it went in the comments down below, I’d love to hear from you.

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Be sure to check back next week for an easy DIY project for your kitchen! Until then, stay crafty my friends!

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