One-of-a-Kind Birdhouses Made from Scrap Metal

watering can bird house photo

Watering-can birdhouse. Photo: Brian Carlisle/

Most people would look at an old copper fireplace coal bin -- if they bothered to notice it at all -- and see something ready for the junk heap. Brian Carlisle saw a birdhouse.

"It just spoke to me when I looked at and I could envision a bird hole in front and a roof on top," he told TreeHugger in an email. "From there, I saw lots of opportunities with many other metal items that most folks throw away or keep for no reason." The quirky, whimsical results are both retro and futuristic, and strangely beautiful.Scouring Thrift Stores For Supplies
Carlisle gathers his birdhouse-making supplies -- percolators, flour sifters, tea pots, hard hats, license plates, galvanized gas cans, sugar canisters, trophies, watering cans, even a metal space heater -- at flea markets, thrift shops, and antique stores, or through donations from family and friends.

Describing the process of making the watering-can birdhouse pictured above, he writes on his blog:

I cut the top off and used an old enamel cooking pot lid. Then I needed [to] balance the color so I modified some fins from an old vegetable steamer and painted them blue for shutters. Some accessories, a napkin ring, a hanging ring, some brass dresden, and some more copper and it's complete!

recycled metal bird houses photo

Coal-bin (L) and license-plate birdhouses. Photos: Brian Carlisle/

A freelance graphic designer based in Shreveport, Louisiana, Carlisle says his birdhouses were inspired by the avian visitors to his yard.

"I had recently started to feed, photograph, and nurture the birds that visited my backyard. I even got my backyard certified [as a wildlife habitat] with the National Wildlife Federation, which anyone can do," he told TreeHugger.

"I've been 'green' conscious for quite a while. I keep my property pretty much completely organic and participate heavily in our municipal recycling."

Backyard Observations
Carlisle's love for nature is reflected on his blog, where he posts photographs and writings about birds, insects, and other creatures he observes in his yard, along with his latest metal creations. Birds have been slow to take up long-term residence in the birdhouses he has in his own yard, he admits, but adds that birds are plenty "creative" about where they nest, also cautioning customers to keep the houses out of direct sunlight so they don't get too hot.

Asked about his future plans, Carlisle says: "I try to get out in the garage/studio as often as possible to keep the birdhouses and other creations flowing. I would definitely like to create upcycled items full-time. There's really no limit to what old items out there can be [taken] out of our landfills and given new life."

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