Spool rules: Feeder created from recycled items


Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE – A few local outdoors enthusiasts have taken recycling to a new level.

Thom Skelding, a birder who lives in Ishpeming Township, acquired a large cable spool from a friend who had buried power line installed.

Skelding made good use of the item, tweaking the spool to enhance his hobby and help local wildlife.

He crafted a bird feeder setup in which he cut off a birch branch to fit the center hole. He then drilled a few holes in the branch and added smaller perches.

Skelding said the spool feeder can be rolled out of the way for snow removal and when the ground becomes dirty.

“The idea came from feeding birds in winter, when large amounts of birds become concentrated in a small area,” Skelding said.

This can lead to feces and seeds becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and the resulting illness that affects some birds, Skelding said.

Skelding doesn’t recommend painting or staining the spool, but if the top is already painted, he said it would be safe to use. He also recommends cleaning the wood every so often with a bleach-water mix and flipping it over to get a fresh clean surface.

Skelding said almost all companies in the area will give away old cable spools free for the asking.

Phyllis Carlson of Quinnesec, a self-described “avid flower nut” with a passion for native orchids, has another creative way to feed birds with a recycled item. She bought a used swing-set, putting up the frame in her yard and hanging feeders from it, using the hooks already on the frame for swings.

“As the snow melts I can, with a little help, lift the frame up and move it to a new area to reduce the spread of salmonella, which becomes a problem when the fallen seed starts getting wet,” Carlson said.

In the summer, she noted, she can take the setup apart and store it until fall (she doesn’t feed birds the entire summer).

The advantages to this feeder system, Carlson said, are twofold. It’s easy for her to reach the feeders, plus the squirrels have trouble getting into the feeders on the swing-set.

Whitetail deer, on the other hand, can reach the feeders, she said.

“For next year, I am considering getting an open platform feeder and mounting it on the top bar to provide another feeding area and one that is not as reachable by the deer,” Carlson said.

Skelding also said he doesn’t feed birds all year, typically stopping the feeding when birds begin to nest in the spring.

“I leave one feeder up, that the bears and raccoons cannot reach, for my chickadee buddies,” Skelding said. “They should be the state bird. How those little things make it through this kind of weather is a miracle.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.