If you like collecting birds you probably have at least a few of them already around the house. You might have ones from other countries; you might be collecting stuffed, state birds from each of the 50 states. Or, you might just be starting your collection and all you have so far is a couple of bird paintings. No matter. If you like collecting birds you can add to your collection in a hurry with very little money by making some birds yourself. Even though the birds you make will be fairly simplistic they’ll still fit right in with the rest of your collection.
You don’t have to be any kind of artist to make your own fake birds. The birds don’t have to be exotic and fancy; make simple, inexpensive birds that can just fit in with the overall bird theme. You’ll need a few craft supplies to get started but they won’t cost much. With the cheap supplies you can make tiny birds, larger birds, particular types of birds or non-specific birds. The craft is so easy and addictive you’ll want to make lots and lots of new birds for your collection!
Start with a variety of Styrofoam balls. They can all be the same size or you can purchase various sizes. You’ll find bags that contain two or three different sizes at most any craft store. In addition to the balls you’ll need paint that’s suitable for Styrofoam. Check the label to make sure since some paints melt Styrofoam. You’ll also want to choose a bag of assorted feathers for your project. The feathers should be soft, willowy types rather than stiff feathers used for headdresses.
It’s really easy to make a variety of birds once you have the basic supplies. Glue two Styrofoam balls together and you’ve got the bird’s head and body already! Make both balls the same size to create one type of bird; use a smaller ball for the head than you use for the body to create a different look for the bird. Align the head and body vertically to give a certain look to the bird; tilt the head somewhat and you’ll give the finished bird a totally different appearance. No matter what size Styrofoam balls you’re using, cut a sliver off the bottom ball to keep the finished bird from rolling. You’ll find it easiest to cut the Styrofoam when you use a serrated knife that’s coated with wax. Cut an old candle with the knife, then cut the Styrofoam.
Once you have the two balls glued together (or stuck together with a toothpick) you can then create the individual look for the bird. You can paint the balls a particular color, then use feathers of the same color to finish the bird, or you can paint the bird one color and use a totally different color of feathers. For instance, if you paint the balls blue and add blue feathers, you’ll make a bird that looks much different than one that has been painted blue but is embellished with white feathers.
Glue on two wiggly eyes to begin the face. The beak can be made from several different things; each choice will give you a different appearance to the finished bird. Use a wooden match stick to create a beak by first poking a hole in the ball with a nail, ice pick or other implement. Snap a piece off the end of the match (removing the match head itself) and glue the broken end into the hole. Or, tear the match head from a cardboard match, fold the match in half, then insert it in the hole. Other things you can use to make a beak include a small piece of colored craft foam, a bead, the end of a dowel, a piece of toothpick, or even the broken tip from a crayon.
Use the nail or ice pick to make holes for the feathers. Poke one hole on top of the head, one on each side of the body, and one in the rear. Glue a few short, wispy feathers to the top and additional feathers for the sides. The side feathers can be a little more substantial than the head feathers. The tail feathers can be a little longer and even a little stiffer than the feathers used for the sides and crown. You don’t need to glue on a whole lot of feathers to finish the bird. A small feather on top, a couple on each side, and a gathering of feathers at the tail area will do fine.
After the feathers are in place you have several options for creating the bird’s feet. Since you sliced a piece off the bottom ball so the bird could sit you’ll make the bird’s legs and feet stick straight out as if he were sitting down like a person. For the feet you can use broken stick matches, inserted cardboard matches, small-diameter dowel pieces, twigs from the backyard, toothpick pieces or similar items. By combining painting techniques, facial features, various sizes of balls, and assorted feather colors you can literally create hundreds of different birds for your collection. Don’t have a bird collection? You will when you finish this project! It’s so much fun to make the birds you just won’t want to stop!