DIY bird feeder: how to make a bird feeder from scratch

Make your neighbourhood birds feel at home with these DIY bird feeder ideas for your garden.

Updated July 12, 2019

Plastic bottles hanging upside down with a cactus on top

Key steps

To make a DIY bird feeder, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the type of bird feeder you want to create.
  2. Collect all the materials you need and prepare them – paint, prime, or sand as needed.
  3. Assemble your bird feeder and ensure it is secure and safe.
  4. Hang it in a prominent location in your garden and make sure it’s topped up regularly so your birds don’t go hungry. 

Birds make a great addition to a garden by adding song, colour, and life to your outdoor space – but how do you attract them? One of the most effective ways is by hanging bird feeders in your garden but not everyone wants to go out and buy them. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to make a bird feeder out of recycled materials such as plastic and wood. It’s not only eco-friendly and cost-effective, but it’s also designed to fit seamlessly into your garden décor. What more could you want?

If you’re making a DIY bird feeder from a plastic bottle, ensure to clean it with Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid before you begin.    

How to make a bird feeder from a plastic bottle

The easiest way to make a DIY bird feeder is by using an old plastic bottle. This is also a great way to reduce the amount of plastic waste you throw out. You can use coloured bottles for a more interesting look or decorate yours to make them fit with your garden.

Here are the basic instructions of how to make a bird feeder out of a plastic bottle:

  1. Take a bottle and clean it with a powerful soap, such as Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid.
  2. Cut two small holes in the bottom.
  3. Thread twine through the first hole and out the other before tying it together in a loop so you can hang your bottle up.
  4. Make two holes on either side of the bottle, about 7.5cm up from the cap.
  5. Poke a chopstick or wooden skewer through these holes so that either end is sticking out - this will be the perch for your birds.
  6. Cut holes that are around 85mm big and sit 5cm above the perch this will be the opening for the birds to get the seed.
  7. Fill your bottle with birdseed until it’s about half full.
  8. Put the cap on and hang your feeder upside down from a tree.
  9. Sit back, relax, and watch the birds fly to your feeder!

Read our hacks for used plastic bottles for more inspiration.

DIY wooden bird feeder

For more rustic bird feeder ideas you can choose to use scrap wood instead of plastic. Paint it or leave it in its original colour depending on your preferred style.

Here are the basic instructions of how to make a bird feeder out of wood – we’ve chosen to go with a classic house shape that’s open on one side but you can always experiment with different shapes and designs:

1.     Cut your wood to size. You’ll need: 3 rectangular pieces for the sides (remember you’re leaving one side open), 1 square for the base, 2 larger squares for the roof, 1 triangular piece for the back of the room, and 1 small width to provide a perch to birds on the open side. The measurements of each piece of wood will depend on the size of bird feeder you want to make so it’s important to sketch it out first and calculate the measurements accurately.

2.     Once all your wood is cut, sand any rough edges and paint it if you plan to do so. Use a primer before applying your final coat of colour.

3.     Once dried, assemble your bird feeder to ensure everything fits together properly. Remember you’re building a basic house shape with a slanted roof.

4.     Glue the structure together, one piece at a time, using a non-toxic wood glue. You’ll want to use small clamps to hold the pieces together while the glue sets and may need to wait for one join to set before glueing the next one.

5.     Once everything has been glued securely, drill two holes in the room and thread a length of twine through to create a loop. This is how you’ll hang it up.

6.     Add birdseed into the open side and you’re done!

How to make a bird water feeder

If you’re looking for a simpler idea than seed-based feeders, why not try a DIY bird water feeder instead. These feeders use a shallow dish to offer birds a place to drink, eat, or bathe.

Follow these easy instructions to make yours:

  1. Take a plastic bottle and a shallow plastic dish. The dish should be about 1-2cm deeper than the lid of your plastic bottle.
  2. Take off the bottle lid and use super glue to attach the flat surface of the lid to the middle of the dish.
  3. Turn the dish over and use super glue to attach a long plank of wood to the bottom. This’ll be the perch for the birds.
  4. Next, take the bottle and poke three small holes about 0.5-1cm above the cap, depending on the depth of your dish.
  5. Fill your bottle with water and screw the cap on before turning upside down. The water will fill up the dish until it reaches the holes in the bottle, ready for the birds to drink!

Now you know how to build a bird feeder - both for seeds and water - you’ll find your garden bursting with life and song

Originally published July 5, 2019