A sturdy, well-ventilated house made from scrap items might suit a bird just fine, but you don't want your yard looking like you hung out the trash. So, it's important to camouflage your creation. Recycled and found items work great for this. Dig through your junk drawer, your hobby bin and the places where you put leftover "useful" stuff and all those things you're going to fix one day. Then let your imagination take off.
Gather some pretty pebbles, mix them up with grout, and convert a paint can into a stone cottage. Glue and salvaged buttons enliven a milk carton chateau. Bolt the blades of a non-working table fan to the handle-side of a milk jug, secure a pair of old skate blades to the opposite side, attach a funnel over the mouth, and you've got a helicopter habitat. Make a Three Little Pigs theme with a straw house (drain pipe encased in broom straw secured with wire); stick house (twigs glued to a milk carton); and a brick house (Lego block façade on a purple martin apartment house made from an old hip-roof metal tool box).
Old license plates or scrap corrugated metal make good roofs. Pine cone scales are ideal for roof shingles. Tree fungus, drift wood, old tools and drawer pulls become perches. Moss, shells, sweet gum balls and acorns applied as siding let your recycled bird house harmonize with nature. Or you can personalize your creation with decoration that reflects your hobby -- a checkerboard-painted roof and checkers for siding, porch and perch, for example; gears and motor parts that didn't seem to go back in when you fixed that clock; or a mosaic of broken china.
Making a recycled bird house can be a fun craft -- and an exercise in imagination -- for the whole family. Look on the next page for more information about birds and ideas for other recycled crafts.