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How to Make a Hummingbird/Oriole Feeder from Recycled Plastic Containers

Updated on May 29, 2012

Natural Source of Nectar for Hummingbirds: Colourful Flowers

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbird | Source

Bird watching and Nectar-feeding Birds

Bird watching is a popular hobby for both the young and the old. Nectar feeders such as the hovering hummingbirds known for the blurring speed of their wings and the orioles known for their brilliant orange and black colouration, intensify the experience. What better way to enjoy these beautiful creatures than to create bird feeders that utilize the principles of recycling and also provide an easy and inexpensive alternative to commercial feeders and feed.

Hummingbirds especially rely on nectar for the balance of calories that they require for their hovering (involving beating their wings 15 to 80 times per second depending upon the species) and flying activities . If you have ever watched them dart to and fro from flower to flower and back to their safe harbour, it is obvious that extraordinary energy reserves are required. The sugary drink in your home made hummingbird feeder will be a welcome source of energy from the neighbourhood hummingbirds who will soon zero in on an easy source of nectar. The ants and other insects attracted by the sugary drink may also be consumed by these birds as a needed source of protein.

Oriole Enjoying a Sip of Nectar


Materials to Make the Oriole/Hummingbird Feeder

  • gatorade bottle and cap
  • medium sized container with snap on lid
  • wire
  • drill with 3/8inch bit
  • sharp scissors
  • sharp knife
  • round nose pliers
  • marker
  • sharp metal skewer
  • round nose pliers

Did You Know?

  • Natural white cane sugar provides the calories required for the huge energy expenditure of hummingbirds. Sugar substitutes do not provide any energy at all.
  • Honey, brown sugar and molasses are too heavy for hummingbirds and orioles to digest and ferment more quickly allowing the formation of mold which is fatal to the birds.
  • The use of boiling water slows the fermentation of the sugar by killing bacteria or mold spores which might be present.
  • Home made nectar is just as good as commercially prepared and will attract just as many birds.
  • Extra nectar may be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Instructions for Making the Hummingbird/Oriole Feeder

  1. Clean the gatorade bottle and container with warm soapy water.
  2. Lay the gatorade cap on the centre of the snap-on lid and trace around it with the marker.
  3. Use the sharp knife to begin a cut in the middle of the traced circle.
  4. Finish cutting out the traced circle in the lid with the sharp scissors, periodically checking to see if the open end of the bottle fits through snugly. When the bottle fits in the hole snugly you are finished.
  5. Using a sharp metal skewer to start and finishing with round nose pliers create 4 holes equidistant around the lid.
  6. Using a 3/8inch bit, drill a hole in the lid of the gatorade bottle.
  7. Fit the snap-on lid onto the bottle so the bottom side of the lid faces you.
  8. Make a snug circle of wire around the top of the gatorade bottle. Twist the ends together tightly and cut off the excess.
  9. Thread a 15 inch length of wire through the circle of wire on two sides wrapping the excess wire around itself. You now have a wire look to hang your feeder.
  10. Snap the lid attached to the gatorade bottle onto the medium sized container to ensure it sits properly. Make adjustments if necessary.
  11. Gently take apart the bottle from the container. Fill the bottle and medium sized container with hummingbird nectar (see recipe below). Screw the cap onto the gatorade bottle.
  12. Attach snap-on lid (attached to mouth of gatorade bottle) to the medium sized container.
  13. Hang your feeder in an appropriate spot in your garden and watch the beautiful birds come to feed.

Nectar for your Hummingbird/Oriole Feeder

  1. Hummingbirds prefer a ratio of 1 part white granulated cane sugar to 4 parts water. This solution approximates the concentration of sugar in natural flower nectar.
  2. Orioles prefer a ration of 1 part white granulated cane sugar to 6 parts water.
  3. For attracting primarily hummingbirds, mix 1 cup of white sugar with 4 cups of boiling water.
  4. If attracting primarily orioles, mix 1/3 cup of white sugar with 2 cups of boiling water.
  5. Allow the solution to cool before filling the feeder to prevent warping of the feeder or burning the tongue of the feeding bird.

If you like to learn how to attract more hummingbirds to your yard through the use of plants attractive to these birds, check out Rosemay 50's hub, Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies.


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    • profile image

      Jane Volmering 

      8 years ago

      I have been looking for new perches for the oriole feeder that looks like it has little ladders .

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      8 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Thank you for the return link Teresa much appreciated, it is good when hubbers work together.

      Pleased to hear that this is working well for you, you'll soon have hummingbirds galore :)

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great to see you again Rosemay. I am flattered that you have linked to your site. I will do the same! Glad you like the idea. It is working well for orioles right now. I will have to add some red plastic decorations to attract more hummingbirds!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      8 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is a great idea Teresa. Inexpensive and fun to do

      I hope you don't mind I have added a link to this in my latest hub on hummingbirds.

      Voting up

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Mwilliams66 and clevercat, My son helps me with most of these projects. It is definitely a child/parent craft. Red non-toxic paint or red foam or plastic flowers would definitely make it more appealing to hummingbirds. I will be adding those touches to this one in the hopes of attracting more hummingbirds. The orioles seem to come no matter.

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great idea! I would like to try this. Voted up and useful.

    • mwilliams66 profile image


      8 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      What a great idea. Voting up, pinning and planning to make with the kids. Thanks for posting.

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Glad you like it. So far I've got one Oriole pair who seem to be regulars! The hummingbirds were by once that I've seen so far but they are speedy visitors. Hoping to get a picture or two to add to the hub!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      8 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is a great plan for recycling, as well as feeding our avian friends. Excellent hub!


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