I had no idea it was possible to become addicted to bird watching—until it happened to me. When my husband and I recently visited his family in western New York, my father-in-law had assembled an impressive village of feeders in his backyard. Before the trip was over, my husband and I found ourselves spending hours cooing over chickadees and woodpeckers and (my personal favorite) red-breasted nuthatches. Back home in Brooklyn, I needed to find a way to do some bird watching from my own window:
Photographs by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.
Above: I decided to make my own feeder from a design suggested by the Audubon Society. Luckily, this feeder is affordable to make and relies on a favorite wintertime treat: the grapefruit.
Above: The supplies for this project are simple and likely include what you already have around the house. I used a small Gimlet Hand Drill ($14 from Kaufmann Mercantile) to make holes in the side of my grapefruit, but any sharp object will do. A small nail or screw would work perfectly.
Above: To begin, I cut my grapefruit in half longitudinally, slicing in the space between the top and bottom poles, rather than through them.
Above: If you're like me, you might pause at this stage to enjoy your ruby red, but if you don't have time for a leisurely snack, slice around the outer edges of your grapefruit's flesh (no need to dig into the white pith) and scoop out the fruit to save for later.
Above: You'll find that you can get the interior of the grapefruit cleanest just by using your fingers. After I removed the bulk of the fruit with my knife, I pinched the remaining flesh and peeled it from the rind.
Above: After I'd cleaned out the inside, I made four evenly spaced holes in the rind. I made mine about a centimeter down from the top rim to make sure that the twine wouldn't rip through the fruit after it was hung.
Above: Next, I cut four long lengths of good-quality twine. How long you make your twine will depend on the particulars of your setup. I made my lengths long enough to be able to close them in our window and allow the feeder to hang below the sill.
Above: Using a nail or drill to guide your twine, push each length through the holes you've made and make a double knot on the other side. I trimmed my ends, but you can leave them long if you prefer.
Above: I filled my grapefruit feeder with a waste-free feed mixture to avoid scolding from my landlord. This feed includes seeds that have already been hulled and will reduce unwanted fallen debris.
Above: The only trick now is the waiting. I spotted a cardinal in the bushes outside my window yesterday, and I'm hoping it won't be too long before he spies his next meal.