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How to Make a Bird Feeder

Updated on September 2, 2019

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.

Supplies that will be used
Supplies that will be used

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
  • twine/string/cord
  • scissors or a knife
  • disposable chopstick/pencil/or a strong stick from your yard
  • marker

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!

Preparing to cut
Preparing to cut

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.

Now we cut
Now we cut
Chopstick slides easily through
Chopstick slides easily through

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 hole in the cap
Making a hole in the cap
Making drainage holes
Making drainage holes

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.

Tying the knot
Tying the knot

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.

The finished product
The finished product

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.

Here is a milk jug I used
Here is a milk jug I used

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.

Hard Corn:

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 :)


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