Instructables

This Satellite Dish is for the Birds

Featured
Picture of This Satellite Dish is for the Birds
Have you ever wondered how many unused satellite dishes are floating around aimlessly out there? After being disconnected, they seem to have no apparent function other than occupying valuable storage space and being mostly ugly? The object of this exercise is to offer a simple way to make an environmentally friendly use of one of the thousands of satellite dishes that have found their way into the landfills, attics and garages of those who have had their service disconnected.

The satellite companies typically require the user to return the receiver but to leave the dish and its hardware behind. For those who have access to the removal of this unsightly hardware, here is a garden friendly way to put it to use as a free, rugged, and weather resistant birdbath. Keep in mind that if you plan to install it on a tree you will have to fiddle around a bit to find a level spot to secure it and you may even need to use wooden blocks or shims in extreme cases. The idea is to keep it reasonably level to allow water to seek its own level in a more or less uniform way.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Sneak preview of the finished project

Picture of Sneak preview of the finished project
P17.JPG
Will the first bird lusting for a bath please speak up!

To arrive at this last stage in the project please press on to the next step!

Step 2: Tools and stuff

Picture of Tools and stuff
You will need a few standard tools and at least one can of spray paint of your choosing. I chose to use camouflage base flat enamel because it is going to be bolted to a lovely pine tree in my back yard and I wanted it to blend in with its surroundings and be most visible only to the birds. The inside of the dish may be coated with swimming pool paint to reduce algae buildup, but this is optional. It need only be a non-toxic paint. The dish will need to be cleaned regularly in any case.
Bully_4_You6 months ago
Thanks for posting! I just had 2 rotted out dish antennas replaced and they are now sitting in my driveway. Seemed a waste to toss them. Time to grind off the rust and put them back into service! The bird bath idea is a good one. We have lots of feathered friends around here.
BTW, bruc33ef, Trees are alive only on the outermost cambium layer just under the bark. Putting a couple screws into a tree will not cause irreparable damage. The tree will simply re-route nutrients around the hardware. :) A worse method would be to wire the object around the tree, because that would choke off nutrients as the tree grows into the wire. hmansfield's method is perfectly safe for the tree. If extra holes are made and not used, seal them with tar or roofing paint to keep bugs out.
bruc33ef4 years ago
You want to damage trees in order bathe birds?? How environmentally friendly is that? Please find some other way to fasten the dish to the tree, for example by wrapping flat webbing around it. This is so serious a concern that I'm recommending to the website that this Instructable be flagged until fixed.
*sigh* What on earth would you say to a child that builds a treehouse? What about woodpeckers and other boring animals, I suppose they were here first so their holes don't matter? I'm an avid nature lover but you're being a bit ridiculous in my opinion...
1. You don't have to put holes in a tree to build a treehouse. 2. It's interesting that you seem to consider woodpeckers your moral superiors and therefore take your lead from them. 3. An "avid nature lover" doesn't wantonly destroy a tree without considering the consequences and when harmless alternatives are so easily available. 4. Using words like "*sigh" and "ridiculous" are ad hominem and are not substitutes for rational argument.
Trees are very strong and resilient. I've seen trees grow around metal fence poles, live with streetlights mounted to them 30 years ago, and absorb chain link fence into them. The tree will be just fine.
Actually, it's only the strong and resilient ones we see. The ones that don't make it rot away and disappear. It's like saying people must not die because you never see any dead people walking around.
baggot bruc33ef4 years ago
uhhhhh your computer is probably inside a building made out of chopped up trees. flat webbing is probably made out of plastic which kills the ozone. and also it wouldn't work. I didn't recycle a pop can today. As far as the bird feeder it still looks like a satellite mounted on a tree when no birds are around. No HOA I assume.
baggot baggot4 years ago
You must have got patchouli in your eyes making you a less than effective hippie: This guy is a chronic fastener of objects to trees!!! in step 14 there is a thermometer nailed to the tree too. Now I'm going to report this thread too!!!
I know i'm a year late...but you guys know he was kidding, right?
bruc33ef baggot4 years ago
So let me get this straight -- because trees (sustainably harvested under law) are used for construction it's okay for this guy to recommend destroying any tree he wants to? Makes perfect sense. Thanks for your insight.
no it dosent it would damage a tree to stick a giant bolt through it .its fine using small scres on a healtyh tree
For those of you who want to remove the hardware if relocating the bath...remember that every hole left is an open invitation to wood borers, which can and will destroy the tree. Probably best to leave the screws and nails where they are.
good idea!
bADiTCH4 years ago
Just put together a double dish bird bath at my mom's place. Mounted them on pressure treated 4x4 post that I concreted into the ground. Great idea!
a 4x4 post..now that really is a damaged tree :).
pitajames4 years ago
I agree that most trees can easily cope witha few bolts. Have you seen how Treehouses are built? They often use alot of big bolts to support the floor/foundation. The tree can cope. Nice instuctable
xonox4 years ago
Putting in a few 2 or 3 inch bolts ought not hurt the tree, after all a lot of the anti-logging tree loving environmentalists out there drive more than a dozen wickedly long bolts into trees in effort to stop chainsaws. They say it doesn't hurt the tree in the long run but hurt the lumberjacks (I don't agree with either camp, btw). Which brings up another point, maybe remind people to remove both dish and bolts should they decide to relocate or remove the birdbath, but that is pretty logical. Oh yeah, don't use copper nails or screws to secure the dish, that will definitely have anegative effect on the tree. Excellent instructible by the way -- I have two old dishes that are going to be birdbaths in a week. I'll even make and attach a Free Bird Bath sign on the LNB arm so birds know it.
hmansfield (author)  xonox4 years ago
Xonox, thanks for your comments. I agree with your suggestion to avoid copper nails, or anything else other than galvanized or stainless. I will add this as a note and also add a reminder to remove the hardware when relocating. Would like to hear your comments on your finished projects. Incidentally, I have planted a camera near the window in hopes of catching a photo of the two Cardinals that have visited several times.
coopdaddi4 years ago
Very cool idea! For those who are worried about hurting the tree you could set a post or attach to a fence.
Kirt4 years ago
Interesting. Is the weight of the dish that significant where the bottom brace is needed? Looks like you could have just used the upper brace for support of the thing, one liter of water and whatever the bird(s) weight. Also, bolting directly into the tree? Is that earth friendly?
hmansfield (author)  Kirt4 years ago
Sounds like a good idea depending on where you live. Here in Florida we have monster hurricanes to think about. Thanks for the suggestion. You probably would need to drill another hole midway up the upper brace for leveling purposes if you used only that brace. Also the problem of leveling the dish is more critical. The relatively short lag screws will not damage the tree if a small pilot hole is drilled and the bolt sealed from the outside to prevent bacteria from entering. Did a bit of research on this before proceeding.
SinAmos4 years ago
Yeah, I'm gonna turn my dishes into shields.
lemonie4 years ago
Is it sturdy enough to sit on - I'm thinking you could use such as a perch to observe birds? L
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!