Taking Care of Backyard Birds This Winter: Make A Simple DIY Bird Feeder

homemade-bird-feeder-1.22.13Winter has hit with a vengeance where I live! Along with bitter cold temps, the snow just keeps piling up!

A few days ago as I looked out my kitchen window at our hummingbird feeder, covered in snow, I imagined the hummingbirds  were now somewhere warm, sipping tiny pina coladas. But then it occurred to me that not all birds are so lucky and many are having to get through the winter right where they are! Suddenly I felt very guilty that I was not contributing to the wintertime care and feeding of our fine-feathered friends!

In much of North America, winter can be a difficult time for birds. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or is hidden by snow, and most insects are dead or dormant. Poor little things! I had to do something…ASAP!

I remembered seeing a simple upcycling idea for a bird feeder somewhere that involved a plastic soda bottle and two wooden spoons. I was too lazy to search for it so I kind of made it up as I went along. ;-)

If you would like to help your local feathered population get through the winter…here is a simple way to do it!

homemade bird feeder A Simple Upcycled Bird Feeder

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a 20 oz empty soda bottle
  • 2 wooden spoons (I picked mine up at the thrift store for .25 cents ea)
  • some string or twine
  • an Xacto knife
  • bird seed

Wash out and dry your empty soda bottle and remove the label. Mark with a pen where you want the wooden spoon perches to go on your bottle. I placed one set of holes approximately 1 inch higher than the other, on opposite sides of the bottle.

homemade bird feeder

Then using the Xacto knife, cut “X’s” in the plastic over the pen marks that are just barely big enough to push the wooden spoons ends through.

homemade bird feeder

 

homemade bird feeder

Insert your spoons, end first, until the “spoon” part butts up against the plastic. This will be the bird’s feeding perch. I then cut a slightly bigger opening above where the perch was (using the Xacto knife) to allow a little bit of seed to come out.

homemade bird feeder

 

homemade bird feeder

 

Now fill your bottle with seed (a funnel comes in very handy for this!) and put the cap on.

homemade bird feeder

 

homemade bird feeder

homemade bird feeder

 

Turn the bottle upside down and add a hanger by wrapping jute (or whatever you have handy) several times around the body of the bottle, tying in a knot on one side, then take another piece of jute and repeat, tying into a knot on the opposite side of the bottle. Now bring those ends up and tie together at the top.

Now go find a place to hang where the birdies will find it, use it,…and ideally…where you can also see it. I haven’t seen any visitors to my feeder YET…but I remain hopeful. :-)

Hoping it soon looks like this! :-)

homemade bird feeder

 

More Winter Bird Feeding Tips:

  • Keep feeders full when winter is toughest. Bird feeders are most attractive to birds in winter, when natural food supplies are least available. Seeds that are merely a welcome supplement under normal winter conditions may suddenly become vital in the space of one fierce ice storm or blizzard.
  • Feeders should be located out of the wind. The east or southeast side of a house or near a row of trees is ideal. It is best to have a perching spot such as a bush or tree for the birds to use to survey the feeding area and provide sufficient cover for safe refuge from predators and shelter from the wind and weather. The feeders should be positioned near cover but in the open to allow birds to watch for danger.
  • Oil sunflower is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content and its relatively thin shell.
  • Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm.
  • Peanuts are another great food to offer birds in the wintertime. Peanuts have high protein and fat levels and are often an ingredient in suet products.
  • Clean off feeders, platforms and perches after each storm so seed is easily accessible.
  • Leave fruit and berries on trees, hedges and bushes to provide a natural source of food throughout the winter.
  • Add a heated birdbath to your backyard or place a safe heating element in a regular birdbath to provide birds with liquid water.
  • Stamp or shovel snow around feeders to provide easier access to spilled seed for ground feeding birds.
  • Leave nesting boxes and birdhouses up all year round to provide winter roosting sites.

 


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Comments

  1. laurel says

    I LOVE the idea of wooden spoons for perches. You can always find “cheep” ones at the dollar store. So cute..as usual from you! Up here in NE Ohio we feed our birds regularly, and I do miss my hummers as well!

  2. says

    Last year I made a bird bath out of a broken stool and put it where I can watch from my kitchen window. There’s a low hanging branch where my mockingbirds hang out before splashing around and this will be the perfect thing to hang from that branch.
    Estate sales and second hand stores always have wooden spoons and spatulas. Very cheep, cheep!

    Jan

  3. Deebi27 says

    Fabulous idea Jillee, this looks to be a feeder that also stop the squirrels who need their own food, but not the birds! My one thought, put the spoons as near to the bottle opening of the bottle as possible. Seed below the spoons will never get eaten.

    You can get farm corn on the cob for the squirrels. Pound a nail/with a head into a tree/stump and put the corn on the nail for the squirrels.

  4. Leslie says

    So cute! Unfortunately the squirrels around my house will sit on the perch and gnaw right through the plastic – don’t ask me how I know. We do feed though and have a suet feeder as well. The birds love it and our inside cat enjoys the view.

  5. CTY says

    Love the idea–reminds me of Mary Poppins–”..feed the birds, tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag…”
    Just a thought: When filling the bottle, fill just past the perch sticks & top off with a filler (newspaper, dryer lint) because the seed in the neck of the bottle cannot be dispensed to the birds.

  6. Comet says

    Great idea–but if you flipped this so the filler neck was on top and the base was filled with–some sort of filler—the birds would get more seed! A bigger bottle could work too. You could use a piece of string or wire to make a hanger at the top of the neck end. I think there are other interesting DIY bird feeders out there on the Net for particular kinds of birds at the feeders in your part of the country…..some like certain seeds or feeder types.

    We have a cardinal PAIR that has been coming for YEARS–the female tries to get INTO the house –MY house!!!!—all the time. We also have juncos; blue jays, all sorts of sparrows; black cap chickadees; doves; tufted titmice–mouse? Mouses? Who knows! And many more.

    We also have–here in Upstate NY–a PAIR of Bald Eagles. Yep. We have several larger trout streams and a decent size lake and have all sorts of wildlife inc moose on our road but the eagles—-mmmmm. Hope the trout tourons don’t mind sharing the fish with the eagles! Altho one of the eagles WAS on the tree outside my house last week I suspect they will NOT be seen at the feeder!

  7. says

    Such a great idea… and I love the photoshopped birdies– that seriously cracked me up! I can’t imagine what people do who have “real” winter… negative six??? We’ve been having a record cold snap here in Northern California, and when I saw that it was 25 degrees this morning, I almost passed out from shock. (And from freezing!) :)

  8. Diane H. says

    We don’t get much cold temps where I live and we have many birds year round. We get many more birds in winter here. You can use the suet cage and put snips of yarn in the cage for the birds to use to make nests.

    We leave our bird houses out year round and the same birds come each year to nest. They really like the yarn.

  9. Cynthia says

    Really cute idea. Around here (Louisville, Kentucky), we feed our bird-friends year-round. We don’t use feeders, though. We have a deck off the back of our house, and we just sprinkle the birdseed on the railing, so many birds can come at once, and spread out more. While it is exceptionally enjoyable to see the birds that come in the warm weather, it is sometimes even more so when the weather isn’t the best. Last year, on a particularly dreary day, I happened to put out some food. Before long, our deck was covered in Cardinals! It was the most beautiful display of red birds I’ve ever seen! And, considering we’re all Cards fans in this house, it was especially neat. After that, I put out seed every couple of days. I haven’t been as good about it this year, but now you’ve reminded me that I need to. Thanks, as always Jillee!

  10. Mary Jo says

    One thought to this post. I
    love the feeder and am going to make one! I have several feeders that have been crafted out of recycled items! I never buy plain old bird seed. Most of it goes to waste from the birdies picking out the black oil sunflower seeds. That is what I exclusively buy these days….Nothing goes uneaten now and I don’t have any bird seed sprouts in my garden come spring!!!!!

  11. Martie says

    I love feeding the birds and do it year round, but the squirrels clamor for sunflower seed, peanuts, and suet! I have the fattest squirrels in the southeast! How do I keep these adoreable, little aboreal rodents out of my bird feeders!?

  12. Cat says

    I am soooo glad I read this post today. It is starting to snow here in North Carolina right now and so I grabbed some seeds and got them outside for the birds. I did not take time right now to make this cool seeder….but will make time to do that as well. Right before I put the seeds out there were some birds pecking around and so now I know they at least have some food to help them out! And, they have our christmas tree to hide in and keep out of the elements! Love your blog!!!!!! Keep warm everyone! Cat

  13. Mario Shauer says

    Another important thing to note is how much of the seed you are giving is actually just filler. Many less expensive feeds use a lot of filler, which the birds don’t generally eat and are basically a waste of money and can make a mess in your yard. Filler seeds include milo, sorghum, red millet and golden millet. Birds will push through these fillers to get the food they want, so it is more financially sound to choose one that is higher quality.-

    My own internet site
    <="http://www.caramoan.ph/caramoan-resorts/

  14. Jill says

    Many of the birds around here seem to like the millet but I hate how it sprouts in the garden under the feeder. To stop that from happening the person in the bird seed shop said to bake the seed at 225′F for a few hours to kill the seeds. I do it in a big roasting pan and stir it around every hour or so until it’s good and hot all the way through. The seed will still be nutritious.

  15. Linda Moore says

    Love this idea. Will definitely try this. Here is one I make for our feathered friends. Here in South Carolina the birds have a hard time in the winter. One morning we had just finished breakfast. I had some left-over grits. I had also made bacon that morning. I mixed the bacon fat with the grits. Placed it in the fridge for about 30 min. to help solidify. I put the mixture in a pie tin. (only thing I had on hand at the time) . Put it on my back deck. Went into the yard. Got some small twigs. Nailed the twigs (with small nails) to my deck railing close to the pie tin. I waited- Once the birds found it. They loved it. So did I. They would perch on the twigs although lol some was right there in the tin. This became a morning ritual. Whether or not if we were having grits. I would make some for the birds. One day I came home. My whole backyard was covered in birds. They had told their friends. They decided they wanted it to be a 3 course meal. I soon read after this little project. In birds and blooms. The fat helps them to be able to maintain their body heat during the winter. So then I felt really good. For helping out my little flying friends.

  16. Srushti says

    Hey I am from INDIA (mumbai)……i am a school going child……I just love this idea…………….I made it and many sparrows came to eat it……………i also found some rare birds eating this………. THANKS for sharing this…………..

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