Building a family tradition

There’s a tradition in my family of working on projects together. Always. For as long as I can remember. Take this picture, for example, of my Dad and I building a bird feeder. I had probably just turned four that fall.

Child and father building a bird feeder

Here’s my Dad and I posing with the finished product (and my little sister) as we put seed in the feeder for the first time.

Putting seed in a simple wood birdfeeder

Fortunately I have a nephew who likes building things with me, so I’m able to carry on the tradition that my parents established. When he and his brother came to stay with us for a few days, building a bird feeder was top on my list of projects.

Using the measurements from my Dad’s feeder, we drew it out on a sheet of 5/8 plywood. He held the wood in place while I cut out the pieces with my skilsaw. Then, we switched jobs, and I held the pieces while he nailed them together. We used a bit of wood glue on each joint and some 1 1/4 inch finishing nails.

If I was to build another bird feeder, I might consider painting it before putting it together, but let’s face it, when working with an almost 14 year old, waiting for paint to dry is as exciting as… well… watching paint dry. So we put the feeder together and, after letting the glue set, I was on my own for painting (and yes, I used pretty much the rattiest piece of plywood I could possibly find for the roof).

Bird feeder and pole

A few quick coats of paint on the feeder and one coat of Tremclad on the pole that my cousin welded for us–seriously, the most sturdy bird feeder post I’ve ever seen–the feeder was ready to go outside.

As my nephew hasn’t come back to visit yet, Matt stepped in as my helper. He hammered the post into the ground, and I screwed the feeder onto the post. Still nephew-less, I did the first ceremonial seed dump on my own.

Sunflower seeds in a bird feeder

Perhaps the birdies are waiting for his return before they partake of the seeds, because no one has come to test out the feeder as far as I’m able to tell.

I’m thinking it could be because they feel the feeder is a little exposed. I put it on the turnaround where I can easily see it from the dining room table. However, that means there’s no bushes or trees close by for cover.

Simple wood birdfeeder

Birds do hang out on the turnaround, so I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time before they discover the feeder. I know the design appeals because nearly 30 years later my parents still have the same feeder in their backyard, and they have a steady stream of customers.

If you’re interested in building a bird feeder of your very own, I drew out the plans and you can download them here. This is a perfect project to do with kids because it’s quick and there’s lots of parts they can help with. And if the birds ever show up, I’m sure they’ll like watching them snack too.

Do you have a bird feeder? What bird seed do you use? Any tips for enticing birds to a feeder? Do you like to build things with your children or nieces or nephews? Or did you build things with your parents when you were growing up?

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9 thoughts on “Building a family tradition

  1. Piper loves going into Granddad’s workshop and playing/looking at everything. And she does like to help, or pretend to help. My Dad is super handy and always helping us with stuff around the house, and then we help my parents when needed. That’s what family is for, isn’t it? 🙂

    P.s. LOVE the colour of the bird feeder – mind sharing?

  2. It always takes the birds a few days to discover the feeder. Once they know it’s there, they will visit all the time. But when I go down east, I put sunflower seeds in the feeders and it’s anywhere from 2 days to a week before the find it. I think it depends on if there is other food around, ie berries and seeds. Given the time of year, they will probably find it fairly quickly. You are so cute as a little Julia! And good luck tomorrow on your first day! I’ll be thinking of you!

  3. Such nice memories of working with your dad! You can sure see the pride in your face from helping to build the feeder. 🙂
    We have bird feeders too, in fact one inherited from my dad that he loved. I have another that a student gave me. It’s a small log, about a foot long and a couple inches in diameter, with some holes drilled partway through. They are about 1 – 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Under them are small holes with twigs stuck in them for perches. This contraption hangs from the tree (vertically) and we put bark butter, which we make, in the holes. It draws many birds that don’t come to the seed feeder, including very sweet, tiny bush-tits. I highly recommend this type of feeder to add to your collection.

  4. Hi Julia,

    I loved your family tradition post. Great nostalgic pictures.

    However, I do remember another tradition in our part of the Thomson clan. “The job is not over until it is over and we can all quit together.”Everybody pulled their weight, for some above their weight, and big things, and little things got accomplished.

    Best wishes on your new position.

    Love,

    Auntie Anne

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