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Cheap and Easy-to-Make Garden Bird Feeders

Updated on June 18, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Friends say I have "green-fingers" and the garden certainly seems to respond to my efforts. I enjoy observing wildlife and being outdoors.

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 may not be as robust as commercially-made ones, but they are fun to make. 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 how to make a thistle bird feeder made from an old stocking or pantyhose.

20-Cent 2-Minute Pantyhose Thistle Bird Feeder

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Bird Feeding in Winter

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!

Method:

  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.

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

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

Birds Enjoy Fat Balls in Winter

Source

How to Make a Fat Ball for Garden Birds

Store your waste fats and oils in closed containers until fall. Take a disposable plastic cup or other mold to make your bird feeder. Before putting any grease in your mold, hold a piece of string or wire in the center of the mold. This will be used to attach your finished fat ball to a branch or bird feeder pole.

Pour bird seed around the string or wire until the mold is nearly full. Leave a space of about an inch at the top. Then pour the used melted grease or waste cooking oil over the seeds. The fat binds the seeds together into a ball (or whatever the shape of your mold is). Place the full mold in a cold place for the fat to harden. As the fat it expands and will fill up the gap you left at the top of the mold. Cut away and remove the plastic cup (or mold). Hang your seeded fat ball from a convenient branch and watch the birds enjoy their winter treat.

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 2 months ago from Philippines

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

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