How to Make a Bird Feeder
How to make homemade pine cone bird feeders
Choosing the right bird feeder
Bird feeders are great for anyone who has access to a window or a garden. Making a bird feeder by yourself from household materials is not only easy and economical but also a fun project for adults and for children with supervision. Bird feeders help to supplement the diet of wild birds in all seasons of the year.
There is a wide variety of commercial bird feeders available. For most people a simple homemade option may be the best, and the most fun. In this page I have made a guide to making your own plastic bottle feeder using household material almost everyone will have available around the house. If you are good with carpentry there are links below with instructions, plans, and specification for wood bird feeder options. Also below you will find links and information on creating a bird feeder from a pinecone. And if you have trouble with squirrels and other animals getting at your bird feeder you may want to consider a commercial option designed to block unwanted animals from your bird seed.
The material you will need for a plastic bottle bird feeder
To make a homemade bird feeder you will need the following household materials:
- plastic container
- scissors or a knife
- disposable chopstick/pencil/or a strong stick from your yard
The most readily available material for most people is likely to be water bottles or gallon jugs (milk/water/tea etc.) Simply collect some appropriately sized containers and make sure they are cleaned out; with water bottles this is the easiest!
Prepare to cut
After you have selected your container you will need to use your marker to sketch out where you plan to insert the chopstick and where you plan to cut the access windows. I recommend measuring 1 inch up from the bottom of the bottle for placement of the chopstick. You can draw a black dot there and the draw another one on the opposite side of the bottle. Then measure ½ an inch up from your chopstick dot to find where the bottom of your access window will be.
Making feeding windows in your bottle
Once you have sketched out where you plan to cut on your water bottle you will use your knife or scissors to cut along the lines you have made. This is obviously the most dangerous part of the project and if you are doing the project with your children it is probably wise to take over this task. The plastic of some water bottles can be ridged so cutting them is dangerous in that you will need to apply enough pressure to begin the cut but you must be careful not to let the knife slide and over-cut where it could cut your finger. Remember to hold the bottle down securely and always cut away from yourself.
When I cut the chopstick hole I do not cut a circle out. You will just need to cut a small X shape into the water bottle. This will allow you to slide the chopstick through the water bottle and out the other side and it will be held in place securely so birds can perch on it.
Making a hanger for your feeder and drainage holes
Now that we have all the main cuts made we need to make a cut in the cap of the water bottle so that we can tie some string to our creation for when we want to hang it outside. I recommend finding the center of the cap and to use a knife with a sharp point to “drill” a hole through the cap large enough to insert your string. This is once again probably where an adult will take over if the project is being done with children. You will also want to “drill” some holes in the bottom of your bottle to allow rainwater to safely flow out of the bottle if any gets collected inside. You want to do this to make sure that the bird seed stays dry and clean; stagnant water is no good for bird feeders.
Completing the hanger
The last step of the project is inserting your string through the cap. Once you have the string through your cap you just need to tie a knot at the end of it so that the bottle will hang by the string.
Make sure your feeder hangs level
You will want to make sure that the bird feeder hangs in a level manner once you are done. You may need to adjust your string or your knot to make sure it is balanced. The last step is to fill it with bird seed through one of the windows you cut. Make sure to clean out the seed every once in a while to keep it clean for your new visitors.
Placement – Things to consider
Place the birdfeeder off the ground so that perching birds can visit it safe from predators.
If you have a garden you may consider hanging your bird feeder near some bushes so visiting birds have a safe shelter to hide in if a predator comes.
Don’t place the bird feeder out of reach; you will want easy access to it so you can clean and refill it.
Other kind of containers you can use
I mentioned in the beginning that you can use a milk or water jug as a bird feeder. I think these work best when you are making feeders for birds who like to forage on the ground (for example Northern Cardinals.)
Making this kind of container is much easier. As in the project above you will need to cut access portals in the milk jug. You will probably want to cut additional portals around the milk jug so you are able to look into it when you have visitors. The plastic of milk jugs is much easier to cut so this is probably safer for supervised children to do. Lastly you will want to “drill” some holes into the bottom of the jug to allow for any water that gets collected into it to drain. Then you just need to fill it with seed and put it on your windowsill or out in your garden on the ground or on a brick retaining wall.
CapeCast: Guide to bird feeders!
Bird Seed – What kind should you buy?
Black Oil Sunflower Seed:
The best choice of bird seed is black oil sunflower seed. This attracts the most birds and is high in fat content and nutrients for birds. It is also easier for smaller birds to open than striped sunflower seeds which are cheaper. This type of seed will attract Northern Cardinals, finches, and nuthatches.
Shelled and cracked corn can attract turkeys, quails, cardinals, crows, jays, doves and more. However you must make sure to keep the corn dry and to only put out a small amount at a time so it does not spoil and hurt your birds. Also it may attract squirrels and other animals you don’t want.
Peanuts will attract chickadees, jays, titmice, woodpeckers and more. But as with corn this type of food can attract other animals you don’t want. Also make sure to keep the peanuts dry and only put out a small amount at a time as they can spoil easily in humid/wet weather.
Bird Seed Mixes:
When you go to your local garden shop or when you shop online you will probably see many kinds of bird mixes. They will usually advertise on the bag what kinds of birds are attracted to their mix. The thing to keep in mind when you are selecting a mix is to avoid the following ingredients: Red millet, golden millet, and flax. These are just cheap fillers and are not liked by most birds. Also if your mix has corn or peanuts in it make sure to keep in mind that they need to stay dry and you shouldn’t put out too much at a time. You can also pick them out and offer them separately if you are concerned they might spoil in the rain.
Depending on where you live here are some birds you might see
I hope you enjoyed my guide. Please feel free to link back to my page and share it with friends. Thank you!
Dont forget to check my hand picked links below :)
Great links to expand on this topic
- I found a baby bird. What do I do?
At some point, nearly everyone who spends time outdoors finds a baby bird—one that is unable to fly well and seems lost or abandoned. Your first impulse...
- All About Birds
Did you spot an interesting bird in your yard? Check out this site to identify the birds to learn more about the species. The website includes common call sounds for different species and pictures.
- Attracting Birds in Winter - by Diane Porter
Here you can learn more about attracting different kinds of birds in winter. Sometimes you may only have a couple of kinds visiting your feeder, hopefully with these tips you will increase your variety of visitors.
- Pinecone Bird Feeder
Another type of bird feeder you can make is a pine cone feeder. Pine cone feeders don’t provide any protection fro the seeds but if you are having a period of dry weather they can work great. It won’t last as long but they are pretty nonetheless.
- Birding News and Features — eBird
Now that you have your own bird feeder hopefully you will get a chance to identify some of your new aviary visitors and start a life list of birds you have seen. You can record and save your list here and see who else has seen birds in your area.
- How to build a bird house
If you are handy with carpentry check out this link which gives you ideas and specifications for building different types of bird houses that attract different species. The site includes PDF plans for some designs.
- A Birder's Guide to Backyard Bird Houses And Feeders
This is a great site to browse over after you have made your own bird house. Helpful tips are provided for problems such as birds flying into your windows. Information regarding the types of plants you can cultivate that further attract birds to yo
- How To Attract the Seven Most Desired Wild Birds
Here are some tips on attracting the seven most desirable backyard birds. The site gives a nice overview of the type of food the seven species enjoys to eat.
- Feeding Birds: a Quick Guide to Seed Types
The seed that attracts the widest variety of birds, and so the mainstay for most backyard bird feeders, is sunflower. Other varieties of seed can help a...
- Tips from Lowes
Another website for the inclined carpenter, if you have a workshop and have some leftover wood scraps this site gives some good ideas how you can turn trash into art.