Whirligig Projects

Whirligigs are whimsical garden art with one or more spinning parts that move with the wind. The wind driven motions can simulate activities such as running, hammering, flying, and sawing. There are two types of whirligigs: mechanical and nonmechanical. Mechanical whirligig projects are more complex, with a propeller-type design that powers the movements. Nonmechanical whirligig projects are simpler to make, because they have spinning appendages such as legs, wings, or arms that spin as the wind blows.


An example of a nonmechanical whirligig project is a hummingbird hovering over a flower. The flower stem is also the ground stake. The hummingbird’s beak is connected to the flower blossom so that the hummingbird appears to hover. The wings are attached to the body with a small bolt or wooden dowel and are the only spinning part of the whirligig.


Another nonmechanical whirligig project is a runner with legs that spin in the wind. Attach the runner to a wooden stake and let him run loose in your garden. Whirligigs can be useful to deter birds from vegetables and fruit trees.


An example of a mechanical whirligig project is one with a golfer holding a golf club that swings whenever the wind moves the propeller. A wooden propeller is at the front of the whirligig and is attached to the golfer’s arms by a thin metal rod. As the propeller spins, the rod moves the arms back and forth as if the golfer were taking a swing.


Another mechanical whirligig project is an old two-seater airplane with a propeller on the front. The propeller is attached to the pilot’s arm, which waves each time the propeller spins.

Chicken Pecking

Create a country style whirligig project with a chicken bobbing its head to peck when the propeller moves. Include a small barn or a wooden fence as part of the whirligig design.


A lumberjack chopping wood is another example of a mechanical whirligig project. The arms holding the axe or the upper half of the lumberjack’s body can be connected to the propeller. As the propeller spins, the axe or the lumberjack will move up and down. Make sure to include a small tree as part of the design, and logs in close proximity to the axe.