Your Junk is a Bird’s Treasure

You’ve all heard the phrase:  One man’s junk is someone else’s treasure.  Well, here’s a new twist:  Your junk is a bird’s treasure!

There are many birds such as swallows, robins and finches that look for pre-made structures or items that they can use as a foundation to build their nests.

I discovered a barrage of old, useless things I was about to discard, when I realized that the birds in my backyard might want to use them as the framework for their new home – and I was right!

This old yellow metal lantern had glass panes and was used to hold an electric candle.  I took out the panes of glass (careful to make sure no sharp edges remained).  Without the glass, the lantern with its cut-out metal silhouette design, now had ventilation on all four sides.  I opened the metal door for easy access and hung it under my desk.  Within five days, the nest in the photo started to form.

To the left of the lantern, you’ll see an old thistle birdseed feeder that had a tube of glass inside to hold the seed.  It became useless to the birds when the squirrels viewed it as their own personal buffet.  Inside of throwing it away, I removed the glass tube leaving the pretty wire framework and will hang this under a different portion of the deck – I know there will be new tenants soon!  Not only does this vessel provide great air circulation and easy ways for small birds to go in and out of the frame (including through the top opening), but it also offers the birds protection once their nest is built in the bottom.

Many birds aren’t that fussy.  This is a chance for you to turn your unused items into safe havens for your backyard birds.


  • Find a secure location high enough off the ground to keep birds safe from predators. Secure your vessel under eaves or decks or sturdily affix your vessel to a tree trunk or heavy branch using leaves as camouflage.
  • Make sure your vessel is securely mounted so that wind and rain won’t knock it down.
  • Be sure there are no sharp edges so birds will not get injured when they fly in and out.
  • It is critical that the vessel be fully ventilated (to avoid suffocation of baby birds) and have multiple ways for birds to exit. Remember:  Summer is here, it gets HOT!
  • Exits should be near the bottom. Baby birds may NOT be able to fly out of a deep vessel if the only way out is through the top.
  • Depending on your vessel, add a stick for “perching”.

Use your creative skills to come up with your own ideas putting your old junk to good use.  You’ll be pleasantly rewarded — who doesn’t like waking up to the sound happy, chirping birds?


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