How to Make a Bird Feeder
If you learn how to make a bird feeder, you can easily attract more birds to your back yard and garden. While most people use feeders to help birds survive harsh winters, they are also important during the spring, wet weather or drought conditions when insects and other foods are not as readily available. Food shortages for birds can happen at any time of the year, so installing a bird feeder or a number of them to attract different species is an excellent way of providing them with extra food. It also gives you and your children a chance to watch birds, listen to their cheerful songs, and learn more about them. Remember too that your hungry feathered friends will not know the difference between a commercially made feeder, and your own low cost DIY bird feeder.
Tips on Making Your Own Bird Feeder
Not all birds are attracted to the same kind of feeder so it is important to do some research before you start building. Check out your local library or online sites such as the website for the National Bird-Feeding Society for tips on designs for bird feeders. Remember to take your location and climate into consideration when you make your own bird feeder.
Plan to put out appropriate foods for different times of the year. For example, a fat or suet feeder is not a good idea in the warmer months, and baby chicks might encounter problems if peanuts or other large seeds are brought back to them. You will have to buy bird seed, but this does not have to be the expensive mixes sold at the grocery store. Make your own mixes especially for the birds at your feeders, using bags of white millet, cracked or whole corn, millet or other seeds available from a feed store.
Decide where you will place your feeders. Try to choose a spot that is close to a tree, a shrub or other places that will provide protection from the weather and from predators. Your location should also be one that will discourage other small animals from helping themselves.
Decide on a feeder appropriate to the kind of birds you want to attract. For example, a mesh feeder filled with peanuts will attract nuthatches and tits. A seed feeder has holes smaller than a mesh feeder to hold niger seed that will attract goldfinches. A seed tray could also be used. If you want to attract birds like blackbirds and thrushes, consider using a ground tray, covered with a mesh so that squirrel cannot reach the food. It is also simple to make your own fat balls from lard and seed.
Bird Feeder Design Ideas
A good family project always begins with seeing what materials you have available around the house. Perhaps you can start with a clean coffee can that has a plastic lid. Use a can opener to make three holes on the side of container near the base. Drill a hole through the bottom of the can, and also through the middle of a plant saucer and a piece of wood. Use a washer, nut and bolt to connect the three together, and fasten the unit to a pole or other location. Fill it and cover it.
You can use a similar approach with a cardboard milk carton or a plastic bottle. If you use a milk carton, make a slit near the bottom of the carton, fill it, and then thread a rope through the carton so that you can hang it outside. A plastic bottle may be more versatile. Drill holes at various locations and insert dowels that can be used as perches. Drill additional holes about one to two inches above these perches, with the size determine by the kind of seed you will be using. For example a hole 1/8” by 1” can be used for small seed, and a larger hole about 5/8” could be used for sunflower seeds.
Another variation is a log feeder. Use a log about 6” in diameter and 18” long. Drill a number of 1” holes right through the log, and fill these holes with suet. Use an eye bolt at one end to hand the log. You could also simply make fruit available to attract tanagers, orioles and other songbirds. Put a dowel or stick through a piece of fruit like halved oranges and hang it to a tree branch. Or you could spread peanut butter over a pine cone, cover it with bird seed and hang it out as a special treat. Your approaches to create a DIY bird feeder are only limited by your imagination.