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Cheap and Easy-to-Make Garden Bird Feeders

Updated on May 11, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Peanut Bird Feeder Made from Garden Netting

This bird feeder made with old netting attracted dozens of blue tits to a peanut feast.
This bird feeder made with old netting attracted dozens of blue tits to a peanut feast. | Source

Cheap Feeders Can Be Made by Recycling and Upcycling

Any discarded household item that can hold seeds or nuts could be used to make a bird feeder. The blue tits above are feeding on a holder made from recycled garden netting. Net bags (the kind in which citrus fruit are often sold) are ideal for making feeders for birds that like larger seeds like sunflower. To attract birds that eat fine seeds like thistle, you can make a very cheap bird feeder from an old pair of tights or stockings.

Homemade feeders are often not as robust as commercially-made ones. Be careful to position them away from inquisitive cats and squirrels as their claws can easily damage these cheap and cheerful bird feeders.

The following video shows a 20 cent, quick-to-make thistle bird feeder made from an old stocking or pantyhose. The instructions to make it are given below the vid.

20-Cent 2-Minute Pantyhose Thistle Bird Feeder

How to Make a Stocking (Pantyhose) Feeder

You will need:

  • an old stocking or pair of tights (pantyhose)
  • an empty large yogurt pot
  • a chopstick
  • a jam jar or pickle jar lid


  1. Place the jar lid into the toe of the stocking: this forms the base of the feeder.
  2. Pour thistle seeds over the lid into the stocking to a height of 5 to 6 inches, using the yogurt pot as a frame for pouring.
  3. Tie a knot in the top of the stocking and pin the stocking at the knot end to a tree branch or feeder holder.
  4. Poke a chopstick through the toe of the filled stocking just above the lid. This forms a perch for the feeding birds. It should extend out each side of the filled stocking by about four inches.
  5. To really welcome the birds, make several of these filled-stocking bird feeders and hang them up near each other.

Bird Feeding in Winter

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How to Make a Bird Feeder With a Plastic Soda Bottle

There are so many discarded plastic bottles in our towns and countryside. Next time you see one why not give it an environmentally-friendly use by transforming it into a garden bird feeder?

Items Needed:

  • An empty plastic bottle
  • A bottle top bird feeder kit (two pieces of plastic – a hanger for the top and a perch base piece). This is a really useful piece of kit and well worth the money. It makes converting your old soda bottle into a feeder so simple that even I was able to do it!


  1. The commercially produced “bottle top bird feeder kit” (see comment above) comes in two pieces. First check that the base piece (perch area) fits the screw cap size of your empty bottle.
  2. The hanger is attached at the wide (base) end of the bottle. You can make holes in the plastic using a bradawl or screwdriver. This is quite awkward to do and should only be done by an adult (not a child) to avoid accidental injury.
  3. And that’s it! Fill the bottle with bird seed, screw on the base and hang the feeder from a tree branch.

The video below shows how to make this garden bird feeder.

Plastic Bottle Feeder Craft Tutorial

Garden Bird Watching Is a Popular Hobby

Wherever you live, I'd guess that many of your neighbors enjoy feeding the birds that visit their backyard. Getting involved with wildlife is a satisfying and enjoyable hobby. It also helps the environment by protecting rare and endangered species worldwide.

Millions of people in America and Europe take part in bird surveys every year. The data collected provides key information about the health of the natural environment and world ecosystem. Best practice in relation to bird feeder design and food types are also shared as a result of these studies.

If you're new to watching birds in your backyard, I recommend A Practical Illustrated Guide to Attracting and Feeding Backyard Birds: The Complete Book Of Bird Feeders, Bird Tables, Birdbaths, Nest Boxes And Garden Bird-Watching. As its lengthy title suggests, this book covers everything you need to get you started on this absorbing hobby. I really enjoy watching each season bring new feathery visitors to my garden from overseas as they escape colder weather.

Feed the Birds Using Recycled Items

A black-capped finch enjoys sunflower seeds from an old metal baking tray.
A black-capped finch enjoys sunflower seeds from an old metal baking tray. | Source

Recommended Seeds and Food Options for Bird Feeders

Birds Attracted
Black-oil sunflower
Finches, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, nuthatches
Sparrows, doves, juncos
Pidgeons, doves
American Goldfinch, Common Redpoll, Purple Finch
Suet (beef fat)
Woodpeckers, nuthatches
Titmice, chicadees, bluebirds
Information from Project Feeder Watch "Backyard Bird Feeding Guide"

Seed Feeding Station Made From Fence Netting

A male downy woodpecker eating seed at a bird feeder made from fence wire in southwestern Ontario, Canada.
A male downy woodpecker eating seed at a bird feeder made from fence wire in southwestern Ontario, Canada. | Source

Keep the Feeding Station Clean and Hygienic

With so many birds coming to eat at your feeder, there will be a lot of bird droppings. The feces can transmit disease to both to you, other birds, and other wildlife. It's important you maintain hygiene around the feeding area by clearing accumulated droppings and disinfecting the feeders regularly.

Wash your hands after handling the bird feeders and make sure your children do, too. Any bird food that's not eaten within a day or so should be removed. Excess and moldy food will attract rats and other vermin. If the food is not getting eaten quickly, then reduce the amount you are putting out. A well-maintained feeding station will repay the effort and provide many hours of pleasure bird-watching from the comfort of your own home.

Ferris Wheel Takes Feeding the Birds to New Heights

Best Place to Put Your Bird Feeder

Successfully making your bird feeder is only half the process. To create a feeding station that's popular with your feathered friends, you need to locate it in the right place and maintain good hygiene to prevent disease.

The video below was made by Sussex Wildlife Trust, UK. It gives sensible tips on how to clean your bird feeders and where to site them for maximum enjoyment (for both you and the birds).

Bird Feeding Tips: Cleaning and Locations of Feeders


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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi, what great ideas! we have a few bought feeders but I would never have thought of these, I will definitely try the stocking bird feeder! love it, thanks!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These are great ideas for bird feeders. The table is very useful, too!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 8 days ago from Philippines

      Wonderful ideas on bird feeders and great advice on their placement. The windmill feeder was fantastic!

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