Home-made Wild Bird Feeder from Repurposed Materials - A is for Apple House

Our handsome Polish crested cockerel Ruffles showing far too much interest in this easy to make pallet wood food dispenser, for use with fruit or fat balls.

This is something to make for your own garden but also we have made and given away many as presents. They make ideal gifts to take round to a house warming or Birthday party. We also have on this blog the 'how-tos' for various design bird boxes and an insect hotel all of which have film follow-ups. Many of our projects take less than an hour to assemble, even including the preparation. They also use a minimum of tools and purchased extras and they have scope for personalised, individual decoration and imagination. If you are really inventive you could even recuperate all your nails and tacks and take the price of your presents down to zero. The wood used in all the projects is untreated pallet wood so if you follow these links you will be able to pick up two articles with information on finding and using pallets:
and http://thegreenlever.blogspot.com/2011/11/few-guidelines-for-collecting-pallets.html

An Aid to Orchard management

We first came across the idea for an apple house in a garden centre in Holland it consisted of a piece of wood with the outline of an apple cut out of it. There was a wire to hold the fruit in place and a couple of strips on top to make a protective roof and give it the appearance of a house.

Apple picking with the Quality Control Inspectorate

Let them eat grapes. Omnivores also means fruitivores

We liked the idea for an apple house for our garden because we have a lot of apple trees and windfalls but the wild birds don't really get a look in with all the competition. I also think that wild birds feel more vulnerable eating on the ground, so the Apple House provides them with a safer and more natural position in which to enjoy the fruit.

Testing, testing, one, two three and four!

There is another more practical consideration for us as well and why this will be a much appreciated gift for anyone who has late apples, such as Jonagold. These fruit start to ripen  as the garden is beginning to prepare for Winter and the wild birds start to feel the urgency to store up some extra vitamins and minerals. So as Autumn begins to bite, so do they and finding the fruit not quite ripe, they move on, hopping and hoping for the next and the next apple to be ready.

Some thoughts about tools

The Apple House as designed for our video uses a minimum of simple hand tools and this bird feeder can with help and supervision easily be made part of a holiday project to get children interested in self-sufficiency and recycling.  Furthermore it can also be used as a way of introducing children to the practical use of hand tools, something which could be of immeasurable use in the not too distant future. As for financial concerns,  buying  power tools has never been cheaper, over the past couple of decades these latter have become a drug on the market and  you can pick up a handy and good quality cordless screwdriver, for example, for around 10 euros/dollars/pounds. Good hand tools however, are another story, 1930s novels are full of old men complaining about the quality of steel, they didn't know when they were well off.

You are often better buying old tools at a car boot or yard sale, they are usually of excellent quality and because of this can be sharpened and/or reset. Be aware of brand name old tools, over the past few years these have become collectors items and can now command very high prices. However, good tools are an investment and the more you become acquainted with them the more you will be competent to build up a fine collection.
                                                We are somewhere in the middle.

For the Apple House the tools you will need are as follows: a saw, tri-square, hammer and a tape measure.

You will also need the following materials and fixings, a pallet wood plank and block, some slats from a fruit crate, a few nails and tacks and some string. In addition you will need some interesting looking twigs and a pair of scissors or secateurs.

Handy hint for all projects - No tri-square? Use a CD box.

I get my fruit crates from my local organic shop, where we do our food shopping. They also give me the occasional pallet. In this way I know these crates come from organic growers and will not have contained potentially hazardous chemically treated fruit and veg.

The Apple House itself can be recycled in the Spring to become a nest box for a small bird, such as a wren, blue tit or robin. All it needs is the addition of a tacked on front and back made of fruit crate slats. Remove the twigs and in the Autumn transform it back to an Apple House.

With the addition of a piece of wood laid across the twigs the Apple House can be transformed into a table for small birds after the apples have all gone. Use string to attach rinds and nuts to the twigs for additional avian gourmet treats.

Now sit back, relax and watch Andy make the 'Apple House':

Hope you get to make one.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it, comment and/or ask questions.

Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014

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