Make Your Own Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder
Make Your Own Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder
Bird-watching is an activity that families can enjoy right from their own backyard. As an activity, however, it isn't much without birds to look at. One of the best ways to attract birds is to put up a bird feeder. Instead of buying one, it's a lot less expensive and more fun to create one using a plastic bottle. Making a feeder is so simple that kids can even do it themselves with parental supervision!
From an environmental standpoint, making a plastic bottle bird feeder is a great way to upcycle. With upcycling, something that one would normally discard is used to create something new. For this project, any empty plastic bottle, such as a ketchup or water bottle, will work. Although a 2-liter bottle is most common, one should use a bottle that is a size and shape that will fit with their yard. Other materials for this project typically found around the home may include chopsticks or even twigs from a tree for the birds to perch on.
- Puncturing tool such as an awl or sharp nail
- Utility knife or scissors
- Plastic bottle
- Two 8-to-10-inch sticks
- Metal screw hook
- Polyurethane glue
1. Prepare the Bottle
Before starting, clean the bottle and its cap thoroughly. Start by removing any labels from the outside of the bottle. Remove the cap, then sanitize the cap and the inside of the bottle with a diluted solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Rinse both thoroughly to remove any traces of the bleach. Set them aside to air dry, preferably overnight. This drying time is crucial, as moisture can spoil the seeds, making them unhealthy for the birds.
2. Attach the Metal Hook
To attach the metal hook, screw it into the center of the cap. If this is difficult, make a small hole in the cap by using a nail or some other small tool with a sharp point. This should make screwing in the hook easier. Once the hook is in, ensure that it is firmly in place and add a small drop of polyurethane glue to secure it. The glue will also seal around the hook to prevent moisture from getting into the feeder. Be careful when applying the glue, however, as glue on the threads of the cap will seal it shut. Allow the glue to dry completely.
3. Add the Wood Perches
Roughly 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the bottle, use the utility knife or scissors to cut a small hole. The hole should be the size of the width of the stick for a snug fit. Directly across from the first hole, create a second one.
Insert the stick through both holes. Enough of the wood should poke out from each side so that birds may easily perch and feed.
If space allows, repeat this process to create more perches. Avoid stacking the perches directly above each other by placing the holes in different directions. Keep 2 to 3 inches between each level, and stop at least 3 inches below the bottle's cap.
4. Make the Feeding Ports
Create small openings 1 to 2 inches above each perch using scissors or the utility knife. They should be oval in shape and approximately 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch wide. The type of seed and the size of birds one wants to attract will help determine the size of each hole, or feeding port. For example, seeds that are typically for larger birds require larger holes, while seeds that are sized for smaller birds, such as thistle seed, will require smaller ports.
5. Add the Seeds
Before adding the seed, add gravel or marbles to fill the bottom of the (bottle) below the lower perch if desired. While this isn't necessary, it can add a decorative touch to an area where birds otherwise could not reach seed.
Begin filling the feeder with the desired seeds using a funnel to avoid spillage. If the ports are too large, stop pouring the seed and cover them with clear tape. Create new, smaller holes by carefully cutting through the tape, then continue pouring the seeds until full. Screw on the cap.
6. Hang the Feeder Outside
Hang the new feeder on a tree where birds can easily see it. Ideally, bird-watchers from inside the home should also have a view when looking out of a window. If there are no trees, consider hanging it from a free-standing feeder pole or a bird feeder bracket.
More Plastic Bottle Feeder Ideas
There's no need to stop at just one bird feeder in a yard, and there are many do-it-yourself (DIY) bird feeder styles that are just as simple to make.
- After inserting the first stick, cut an opening 3 inches from the bottom on one side of the bottle. Fill the bottle up to the opening with seed, then just hang it for the birds to enjoy. An even faster option is to forgo the perch altogether and go directly to cutting the window after attaching the hook to the cap.
- People willing to spend a little money can purchase a feeder base that will turn an empty bottle into a feeder. For this option, fill a clean bottle with bird seed, then screw the ready-made feeder base onto the top of the bottle. When turned upside down, the seed pours from the plastic bottle into the feeder.
Other Helpful Plastic Bottle Ideas to Help Birds
Empty plastic bottles are just as easily transformed into other things that benefit birds.
- A movable baffle made of plastic bottles can help prevent squirrels from climbing up poles and stealing the bird seed from the feeder.
- Protect hummingbird feeders by attaching half of a bottle to serve as an ant moat.
- Create a roof to cover a small feeder by cutting off the bottom half of a bottle. Use the cut-off portion as a shelter for the feeder.
Keep the feeder healthy and attractive to birds by:
- Emptying and cleaning it about every two weeks. Bird droppings, bad seeds, and other contaminants can spread disease.
- Not adding new seed on top of old when refilling. Place the uneaten seed in a ground feeder where it will be quickly consumed.
- Switching the type of seed occasionally. This will bring different bird species and heighten one's bird-watching experience.
- Birding for Beginners
- Finding Your Birding Community
- Identifying Birds
- Connecting Communities to Nature: Tips for Bird-Watching
- Backyard Birding Tips
- Four Leave-No-Trace Tips for Bountiful Birding
- How to Choose Binoculars
- New to Birding? Tips for Beginning Birders
- Birdwatching Tips for Fall
- Five Simple Tips for Cool-Season Birding
- American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics
- Your Questions Answered: Interesting Bird Facts
- Ten Birds You Can Spot in Your Backyard
- A Guide to Backyard Bird-Feeding
- Birdist Rule #110: Use Weather Forecasts to Predict When Migrating Birds Will Arrive
- Beginning Backyard Bird-Watching: Location, Location, Location
- Bird-Watching Helps Children Become Nature-Wise
- Simple Tips to Keep Your Backyard Birds Healthy This Winter
- How to Clean Your Bottle Bird Feeder
- Bird-Watching From Your Own Window Perch
- Building Birding Skills
- Maintaining Bird-Watching Equipment
- Optics for Birding: The Basics
- Nine Easy Birding Rules to Protect the Birds and Their Habitats
- Safety While Birding