Introduction: Balancing Bottle Bird

A young Ibis perching on a parrot bracket shakes his head and turns away, starts nodding and turns back. It's not David Attenborough, but still nice to look at. Inspired by a wind chime I saw on a fair trade market. I had to try to make something alike from waste material. So I tried my way with recycling plastic bottles.

The trick is that the head hangs on a scale and is held up by a counter weight. With each breeze the bird turns, nods its head shakes its head. Its fun!

Step 1: What Is Needed

  • Two black bottles
  • One yellow bottle
  • a piece of broomstick
  • a garden stick
  • string
  • green garden wire
  • a small photo-film container ( or detergent bottle cap)
  • melting beads (perler beads)
  • tie wraps ( if possible black and yellow)

and some tools:

  • a pair of scissors
  • hobby knife
  • needle
  • revolver rod
  • small hacksaw
  • drill
  • pliers

Step 2: Cutting the Head

Starting with a hacksaw remove the handle and part of the body of the bottle. Cut the handle open on the inside. Punch holes in both sides of the head and pull them together with a tie wrap. This is how I started, but you will see in step 7 that I changed the appearance of the head. So if you want to copy me, look ahead.

Step 3: The Body

The second bottle is the base for the body, tail and wings. You can first draw a shape on the plastic with a normal pencil. I used a white color pencil to let it show more on the picture. You can start with the hacksaw again, but almost everything can be cut with scissors. Shape the rim of the wings into feather by taking out triangles.

Step 4: More Wings

To give the wings a more feathery look I used the top half of the first (head) bottle. Be sure to cut not a flat piece, but around the edge so the wings get some shoulder. Again cut out triangles to represent feathers. The wing parts are attached to the body with a tie-wrap ( the lower one in the photo).The top tie-wrap is connecting these parts to the wire of the bracket, to stabilize the bird, and prevent it from falling over.

Step 5: Legs

With the handle of a yellow ( "green soap") bottle I created two legs. First the handle is cut off, with a large triangle at the top of the bottle and a little piece extra at the downside of the handle. The handle is split in two to create two legs. The triangle fits neatly round the body and is fastened with two tie wraps. The feet are cut to match the broom stick and tied with a long tie wrap which goes twice round the stick to look like feet.

Step 6: Neck

The neck should be very flexible. I achieved this by alternating beads and plastic circles on a string. I cut out 2 cm squares from the remainder of the "Wing"bottle. It is easier to cut corners until round, than really cut out circles in one go. Punch a hole in each center with the revolver rod. The second photo shows how the neck is attached to the body with a extra bead. Note that the place where the neck is attached to the head is not right! I discovered later on that the the neck must be tied to the utmost back of the head. Otherwise the head will spin like mad and not look like the bird is ever looking forward.

Step 7: Head Adjustment

I found my original head a bit blank so I added a crest, removed the black beak and replaced it with a yellow one. The crest is cut out of a left over piece of the black bottles. It is attached by making holes and thread in a tie wrap. For the beak I cut out a triangle from the side of the yellow bottle. Folded lengthwise in the middle. and the corners to the centre. I cut of the black beak with scissors and shoved the yellow beak in from the back of the head. It stick in place without any attachment. Don't forget to punch out two eyes with the revolver rod.

Step 8: Assemble

Make a big "U" shape out of garden wire, drill two hole in the broomstick and push the wire trough the sick. Attach feet to the stick. With two tie-wraps tie outer wings to the wire to keep the bird upright. Attach some string in the middle of the garden stick. Make a knot about 1 cm above the stick and ten attach the string to the top of the wire bow. The 1 cm gap between stick and wire allows the stick to move more freely. Attach two strings on either end of the garden stick. Attach one to the head. The head schould be at shoulder height when the stick is horizontal. On the other end attach the counterweight. See next step.

Step 9: Counterweight and Balancing

I used a little box from photo film. A little hole in the lid, and a bead on the string.These containers are a little hard to find these days. You could use any other small (drugstore?) bottle or make a bucket out of a detergent bottle cap. This container should be filled with something to gain weight. I used two marbles, about 10 grams. You could use sand or pebbles.

The idea is that the balance is horizontal, and the head about the same height as the shoulders of the body. You can adjust by bringing the stick forwards or backwards, but don't overdo this. When one end is shorter the head will turn to the body, or the counterweight becomes entangled in the wings.

Step 10: Find a Place in the Garden

Find a place in your garden to hang the bird and enjoy the movement with every breeze!

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