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January 14, 2007

Fence-top gourd birdfeeder

Topping_upIf you've read this article and are looking for detailed step-by-step instructions, get ready for a gourd time.

Three_birds_in_a_bowl

A fence-top birdfeeder gives you a close-up view of jewel-toned featherheads all winter long.

Build a bunch of feeders and space them about 18 inches apart along the top of a chain-link fence. 

Your entire yard will come alive within minutes.

Fence-top Gourd Bird Feeder

Step-by-Step Instructions

P1000023 Drill a hole in the side of the gourd.  The shell is tough and the drill bit may skid around a bit, so it's a good idea to give it extra pressure when you're starting the hole, just to get the tip of the bit to bite into the surface.

P1000024Insert a keyhole saw (a serrated, pointy mini-saw) into the hole you drilled.   Cut the gourd in half.  This goes really fast because although the outside layer of the  shell is very hard, the inside of the gourd is about as dense as styrofoam.

P1000025 When the gourd is cut in half you'll see lots of strangely shaped seeds embedded in a dry, pulpy kapok-ish substance.   Set some of the seeds aside if you'd like to grow your own crop this summer.  (See growing details at Norther Dipper Farm - North America's premier gourding web site) 

P1000028 Scrape out the seeds and dried pulp with a sharp knife, or use a gourd-scraping tool if you're the kind of person who prefers cruising in the Fast 'n' Easy lane.   

P1000030_1If you want to apply a finish to the outside surface, now's the time.  My favourite finish for gourds is  Gilder's Paste (seen here in Tulip Red), which won't fade in sunlight and goes on really fast with a rag moistened in a bit of turpentine or Varsol.    Plus Gilder's Paste is semi-transparent so you can still see the beautiful markings in the gourd's skin.  Gilder's Paste goes on shiny but dries matte.  A single tin covers 50 square feet.   There are lots of colours to choose from.

P1000032Drill 8 holes in the bottom of the feeder.  These holes will go over the pointy tips of your chain link fence.  Measure the space between points on your fence so the feeder will fit snuggly on top of them.  Or just live dangerously and eyeball it.  If you screw up you can always cut the holes bigger (speaking in the stentorian tones of the Voice of Experience).

P1000033Use your keyhole saw to cut a diamond shape on each side, using the holes as pivoting points for the  saw blade.

P1000034 Drill two extra holes between the diamonds and feed a length of wire through the holes.  This wire will anchor your birdfeeder to the top of the fence, so use fairly stout wire if you have it.  I used some old copper strips I've been keeping in my metal stash since a euphoric trip to the salvage yard.

P1000036Cut a circle of plastic or metal screening and place it in the bottom of the feeder to prevent seeds from falling out of the diamond-shaped holes.

Gourdy_2_shoes

Attach the bird feeder to the fence, fill with seeds (black oil sun-flower seeds attract attention from the widest variety of songbirds) and wait for the action to begin. 

More fun than a movie.   Unless it's a movie about bird feeders.

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