Introduction: Cardboard Box Birds

Picture of Cardboard Box Birds

Decorative birds made from reused cardboard boxes from cookies,tea, frozen vegetables, breakfast cereals. Not even scissors are needed. Just a glue gun, and crafty fingers.

I make them in all sorts, and sold some on Etsy. Please feel free to contact me if you want me to make one for you. But for all handy hands: make your own!

Step 1: The Base

Picture of The Base

Tear three strips of cardboard for the breast part. Look for pieces that have the right color for the bird you set out to make. Tearing gives a more natural effect than cutting. The uneven white edges make a feather-like impression, and distort the print on the original box. On top of that it allows you to get away with ill fitting parts witch would look disturbing in neatly cut parts.

Glue the three strips together in a fan shape. Make sure the middle strip is on top. Bend all three strips and glue the other end the same, creating a banana shape.

Step 2: Preparations for the Feet

Picture of Preparations for the Feet

Take a piece of wire. The length depends on the size of your bird. Better to long than to short. ( see step 10). Bend it in a narrow `U` shape. Stick it through the strips of the body. Attach it with a small piece of cardboard where the head will be, and secure it with a longer strip across the three body strips where the legs will com out of the body. I used red parts to clarify this instructable. The color won't show later on.

Step 3: Sides

Picture of Sides

To give the body a more three dimensional shape add two cardboard strips to the body, approx. half the length of the first three strips. note how the end are slightly folded in a diagonal way, creating a very wide triangle witch fits the sides of the `banana`.

Step 4: Back Bone

Picture of Back Bone

Attach a long new strip to the end where the head will be. Bend it over and paste it at the tail end. It should make a nice `s`shape

Step 5: Wings

Picture of Wings

Tear out two "D"shapes for shoulders. Give it a little tear in the middle of the straight side. Pull one half a bit over the other so the "D" shape in three dimensional. Add three or four long strips of cardboard for quills and a few shorter ones for the rest of the wing.

Step 6: Attaching Wings to Body

Picture of Attaching Wings to Body

The wings are glued to the sides of the body. It may be necessary to put in an extra strip of cardboard like a ring under the shoulders. It makes the body more rigid, and makes it easier to glue on the wings.

Step 7: Tail

Picture of Tail

Add strips of cardboard in the right colors for the tail. Look at the shape of the tail on a photo of your bird. Sometimes they are pointy, sometimes 'fan-" shaped. Add strips on upper- and underside.

Step 8: Head

Picture of Head

Tear three pieces of cardboard box in an almond shape. One for the top of the head, the other two for the sides. Bend the top of the head and fit it on the back bone strip. The pointy side af the almond towards the beak. Prepare the sides by adding color strips ( if your bird has any) and punch out a hole. Bend them in the same way you did with the top part an glue them to the wings and the sharp side of the back bone or body. The opening left under the head, between wings and body I later covered with a black collar. ( see next step) It doesn't matter if a small opening remains. The bird will look more " artistic" when you can see the body is not massive.

Step 9: Beak

Picture of Beak

Sometimes I use triangles folded in the middle, but for this bird a quarter of a circle, rolled up in a cone was the right way to go. Just stick it to the body with some hot glue from the glue gun. On the last photo you can see how I added some black cardboard to cover the opening under the head.

Step 10: Feet

Picture of Feet

Bend the legs in the right shape. A bit to the rear, then forward and for the feet sharp backward and back to the front. It leaves the feet with one toe forward and on back. Take two extra pieces of wire and bend them in a `Y` shape. Tie this piece to the back toe with a thin piece of wire. (may be from the strip you close your garbage bags) . I paint the legs with acrylic paint (about two layers). Don't be shy with the color. Match them with some part of the body rather than making them "realistic" grey.

Step 11: Result

Picture of Result

Each bird has its own character. Try to find the right shape, color and size for different birds. And make sure you don't throw away the boxes food comes in, for what is better than reinventing nature by reusing waste materials?

In all photographs there are examples of other birds so be inspired and make your own! Depending on the desired shape and size I vary the technique. E.G. the big red bird contains a Pringles roll.


Kerrplunk made it! (author)2016-11-26

I attempted a sparrow in action with wings....

Ruud van Koningsbrugge made it! (author)Kerrplunk2016-11-26

It's wonderful! Congratulations!

I just finished a flying barn owl

DeborahW7 (author)2016-04-01

absolutely awesome!

The cloud 1808 (author)2016-02-25


The cloud 1808 (author)2016-02-25


Setfree2015 (author)2015-12-23

Sooooooooooo cute!

buckmeisterq (author)2015-12-19

Thank you for this detailed 'ible! I made a coffee themed bird for a family member who works at a coffee company and it was a great gift!

He looks wunderful! Nice to see my idea growing on

nuelma (author)2015-05-17

es muy chulo

artistalight (author)2015-03-23

Hermoso trabajo!!

melliott11 (author)2015-02-25

People would go crazy for these if you set up booth during street fair...beautiful work.

jackie.dotson.79 (author)2015-02-14

Hey I got a question...what do you search on etsy to buy this

Hi jacky,
this is the adress

if it does not work search for packeredo
( packet-redo)

jrowley3 (author)2015-01-16

what would it take for you to make me one i can not get them to look as good as yours

Birds are for sale at

or you could place an order in a private message on my account at this site. Cost is 30 euro plus shipping ( 18 euro without track and trace, 25 T&T included)

Without any obligation: a red-tailed hawk is available. 15x17x7 cm Total costs shipping incl. 45 euro. I will add the bird to the etsy shop: soon for the same price

Porda (author)2015-01-26

These are great! I love birds and I love crafts with recycled materials. I'll start collecting some boxes and see if I can't make a mallard, my favorite bird.

Mysterious_Gal (author)2015-01-24

So cool my dad loves cardnals I will have to try and make him one but I don't think it will turn out as well as the one you made :)

ediamond1 (author)2015-01-20

Thank you! I love these! Definitely going to give it a shot, but I doubt I'll get the great results that you or creativeman got. Should be fun to practice tho :)

andrea biffi (author)2015-01-19


Jingles2 (author)2015-01-13

How about a Jayhawk!!!

And there's a gap in my bird-knowledge! Had to look it up on the internet.

LOL! After I posted it, I thought to myself if he is not from around here he won't know what I am talking about! But I guarantee if you make some they would sell like crazy. We are wild about our Hawks!! You have done a wonderful job with these birds. Just love them

You're the expert. Something like this?

These are awesome. You did a great job. How much?

If you would like to buy:

30 euro for the bird, shipping is 25 euro with track and trace; 18 euro without T&T. You can order with private mail on my instructables account.

NB. Photo's show one bird, left and right side

shazni (author)2015-01-16

Your creativity in recyling is amazing!

impulseresponse (author)2015-01-16

This is one of the most epic instructables I've ever seen!
Definately try this one.
(Too bad, I usually through that stuff away so i gotta start collecting now)

deba168 (author)2015-01-16

Love the way of recycling cardboard.Thanks for sharing

Creativeman made it! (author)2015-01-14

Two more...

Love the cardinal!

Thanks Ruud!

MicheleS1 (author)2015-01-15

these are gorgeous-- going to try with my art class next week! Thanks

Eager to see the results. Wonder what age the art class is and how they cope! Hey class; Go for it!

MicheleS1 (author)2015-01-15

These are gorgeous-- going to try with my art class next week. Thanks!

Creativeman made it! (author)2015-01-01

Thanks for the inspiration! Need much practice but it was fun.

PDXHICKS (author)Creativeman2015-01-14

Great job for a first attempt! I am so to find the some boxes. I may have to raid the

nice work! Like the way he looks up. Good expression!

Thank you sir. I looked at your site, really like your work! I told my wife: "he likes cardboard! to which she replied semi-sarcastically..."well you have something in common".

Creativeman made it! (author)2015-01-03

Just had to do some more...lots of fun! What next? Maybe a bald eagle...or that aforementioned peacock!

PDXHICKS (author)Creativeman2015-01-14

The peacock would be amazing, but if you are using the color of the boxes might take a bit of collecting in order to get what you need. Fun challenge though.

I am honored to have a follower like you. I like the scruffy feathers of the black cardstock bird especially! My next project is a series of humming birds, so for now I leave the bold eagle and the peacock for you.

If I may advice you: I would show less neck on the birds, body and head are almost one shape. ( intended as positive feedback).

Both of you made beautiful birds! Simply lovely!

I am so impressed that these are made from recycled packaging.

Aren't birds FANTASTIC? We are so lucky to know and love birds!

Thanks for your kind comments! I had thought of hummingbirds as well, there are so many species, of course. Yes, the head seems to be the major bottleneck as far as form is concerned. Thanks for the input/advice, I will work on that on my next bird. Fantastic job on the hummingbird!

PDXHICKS (author)2015-01-14

Those are really lovely creations. Thank you for sharing the tutorial! I have got to try these. They would be great to decorate with and get older kids together to make.

deregering (author)2015-01-13

What a beautiful creations!

acaig (author)2015-01-13

These are beautiful I love how you matched the colours id like to try this but I don't think it would come out too well

clewis21 (author)2015-01-13

This is so cool!

calyad (author)2015-01-13

What a wonderful 'able! I especially like how the other birds watched the production.

About This Instructable




Bio: Technics/ arts and crafts teacher at a school for mentally disordered young adults.
More by Ruud van Koningsbrugge:Recycled Milkcarton Birdseed DispencerBoxdeerLost Glove Owl
Add instructable to: