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Repurposing Leftover Jack-O-Lanterns for Feeding Wildlife


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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Alsip Nurseries header Repurposing Jack-O-Lanterns for Outdoor Feeding
Alsip Nurseries header Repurposing Jack-O-Lanterns for Outdoor Feeding

Unsure what to do with your leftover Jack-o-lanterns once Halloween is over? Since you can’t eat them after they’ve been sitting outside with a burning, waxy candle in their middle, some folks assume the only place for an old Jack-o-lantern is the garbage can. If you want to avoid wasting those perfectly good pumpkins, we’ve got a creative solution: use them to feed your local wildlife! The hungry birds and squirrels of St. John and Frankfort will thank you.

This is one of the simplest craft tutorials we’ve ever done, and it’s perfect for fall when birds and other critters are looking for extra food to tide them over for the winter. All the supplies you’ll need for this project are:

How to Make a Birdfeeder Using a Leftover Jack-O-Lantern

  • Thick twine or a rope
  • A knife
  • A screwdriver
  • Bird seed

Here are a couple different ways you can cut your Jack-o-lantern to make a bird feeder.

Alsip Nurseries pumpkin feeder with a face

Option 1: A Feeder With a Face

If you’re particularly proud of your carving handiwork, you can keep the Jack-o-lantern’s carved face intact. All you have to do is make three or four evenly spaced holes on the bottom of your pumpkin, then another four on top. Put the holes in the main base of the pumpkin, not the top part near the stem, which you would have cut into to create a lid.

You’ll need three or four long pieces of rope or twine, depending on how many holes you made. Knot each piece at the bottom, so the knot is big enough not to come through the hole in the pumpkin. Lace each string through one bottom hole and its corresponding top hole, so the knots are secure at the bottom of the pumpkin, and the strings are coming out of the top. Cut the string, leaving about 18–24 inches of length. Join the cut ends of the strings together with a secure knot so you can hang it up and suspend your pumpkin from a tree.

Fill your pumpkin with bird seed—just enough so it doesn’t pour out the mouth of your Jack-o-lantern—and it’s ready to be hung up! You’ll be amazed at how quickly it attracts birds to your yard.


Option 2: Pretty Pumpkin Feeder Bowls

If a scary Jack-o-lantern isn’t something you want to keep around after Halloween, then cut it out. Use a knife to make one big circle, removing the eyes, nose, and mouth. Make sure there’s still enough of a reservoir at the bottom to hold bird seed.

String up your pumpkin in the same way described above in Option 1. Fill it with bird seed, and it’s good to go! This option looks particularly pretty if you hang several pumpkin feeders in different sizes and colors in a big tree. If you want to avoid having the squirrels hog all the goods, you can purchase bird seed coated with capsaicin—that’s the spicy stuff in pepper plants. It won’t hurt the squirrels; it will just deter them from eating it all. Meanwhile, the birds won’t notice any difference!

Alsip Nurseries bird seed pumpkin

If you’ve got a giant pumpkin, cut the top ⅔ of the pumpkin off with your knife, leaving a bowl-shaped base at the bottom. Make three evenly spaced holes, creating a triangle shape. Knot three pieces of string, put them through the holes, so they’re secure, and then tie the loose ends together. Fill the pumpkin bowl with bird seed, and hang it up!

Can You Compost Jack-O-Lanterns?

Once your bird feeder is starting to break down, you can absolutely toss it in the compost bin. It might help to break it up into smaller pieces first, so it decomposes faster, and then you can use it to feed your garden next year! Make sure there aren’t any seeds left inside, or else you may have some surprise plants popping up in your garden.

Now that you’ve got some ideas for what to do with your leftover Jack-o-lanterns in Frankfort and St. John, you’re probably feeling inspired to get carving! We’ve got a gorgeous assortment of carving pumpkins, plus delicious baking pumpkins and ornamental gourds to complete your autumn holiday.

The post Repurposing Leftover Jack-O-Lanterns for Feeding Wildlife appeared first on Alsip Home & Nursery.
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