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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  1. 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!) :)

  2. 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!

    • Susan H. says

      Comet, I want to live where you live….sounds beautiful. I would love all of the wild life. (But I would still need access to shopping. LOL)

  3. 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.

  4. says

    Great post! My husband is a big bird-lover and I am sending this to him now. You should add a share via email tab next to your Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter ones :) Thanks! xo

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!


  8. 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!