How to Build a DIY Bird Feeder

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 12, 2024

Want to bring more wildlife to your garden? Create a bird feeder to entice feathered friends to visit your property, giving them a much-needed meal and providing you with an excellent opportunity for bird watching. Bird feeders can be an essential part of any landscape design. You can build homemade bird feeders with a few items you probably already have around the house. Gather a few tools, and get creative with these do-it-yourself (DIY) bird feeder ideas.

Benefits of Bird Feeders

Birdseed feeders are more than a decorative addition to your outdoor space. They have surprising benefits for you and the birds. Adding bird feeders allows you to experience the following benefits:

How to Build a Bird Feeder

There are several ways to make a simple bird feeder for your garden. Here are a few ideas for feeding your local birds.

Birdseed Ornaments

Making birdseed ornaments is an excellent activity for kids, and they can make enough to give to family and friends.

  1. Add one cup of birdseed for every two cups of melted suet or lard. You can also use gelatin.
  2. Pour the mixture into forms, such as cookie cutters or even small bowls.
  3. Stick straws into the forms to create holes for hanging.
  4. Pop the mixture in the freezer and allow it to cool overnight. 
  5. Once cool, tie ribbons through the holes and hang the ornaments in trees for your bird friends to enjoy.

Adjusting the amount of mixture allows you to make birdseed ornaments of any size. Try pouring a big batch into a bundt pan to create a cute birdseed wreath.

Mason Jar Bird Feeder

Turn your jar collection into bird feeders. You can also repurpose an empty wine bottle.

  1. Find or cut two pieces of scrap wood into rectangles that are slightly larger than your mason jar or wine bottle.
  2. Drill two holes in one of your wood pieces about halfway from the top.
  3. Thread wire or twine into the holes, and use it to attach your jar. Position it upside down about an inch from the bottom of the wood. Check that you can remove the jar as needed to refill it.
  4. Attach the other piece of wood at a 90-degree angle to create a base under the opening of the mason jar or wine bottle.
  5. Fill your jar with birdseed and position it on the feeder so there’s enough room for a little birdseed to come out of the bottom opening.

Paint the wood on your bird feeder to bring a pop of color to your garden.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Here’s an easy DIY activity to do with young children such as preschoolers.

  1. Gather a few pine cones from your lawn or while on a nature walk.
  2. Smear peanut butter onto the pine cones with a spoon. Push it into the nooks and crannies of the pine cone. You can add apple, too.
  3. Dip your pine cone into a bag of birdseed so the seed sticks to the peanut butter.

Place your pine cone bird feeders around your garden or hang them in a tree for birds to enjoy.

Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder

Save a few bottles from your recycling bin and turn them into refillable bird feeders.

  1. Rinse the empty plastic bottles thoroughly.
  2. Poke holes in the bottle, roughly an inch in diameter. You may find a craft knife helpful.
  3. Use nontoxic glue to attach sticks to the bottom of your holes. The sticks will serve as perches for the birds. Craft sticks, plastic spoons, or even sticks from a fallen branch will work.
  4. Fill the bottle with birdseed and hang it on a tree.

Make a few feeders and fill them with a variety of bird food to learn what different birds prefer.

Tea Cup Bird Feeder

A teacup bird feeder can bring a cozy charm to your garden.

  1. Pick a tea cup and saucer set from your collection, or purchase one in a local store.
  2. Lay the teacup on its side with the handle up, and glue the teacup to the saucer using nontoxic glue. 
  3. Fill the teacup with wild bird food, allowing it to spill onto the saucer.
  4. Hang the tea cup bird feeder by the handle once the glue dries.

Tea cup bird feeders look adorable hanging in your tree or attached to a fence.

DIY Bird Feeder Materials

The materials you need for your project depend on which DIY bird feeder you make. Whether you opt for a suet feeder or something from recycled materials, there are a few things you’ll want to have on hand to make your DIY project easier.

Bird Feeder Maintenance Tips

Occasional maintenance is needed to ensure the bird feeder lasts and remains attractive to visiting birds.

Our Recommendation

Building your own bird feeder is a fun way to bring more birds to your garden and to connect with nature. DIY bird feeders help support the local bird population, especially in winter when food is scarce. You can make your bird feeder from a variety of materials, from empty wine bottles to pinecones, and give the birds a feast they’ll love.

Once you’ve created your bird feeder, hang it in a tree or fence for birds to find. They are especially attractive to birds when hanging near a bird bath, giving your feathered friends access to food and water. Wherever you hang it, ensure it isn’t easily accessible to squirrels or low enough to make birds easy targets for cats.

Bird feeders can bring joy, color, music, and entertainment to your garden. Try building your own bird feeder, and enjoy its many benefits.

DIY Bird Feeder FAQ

What is the best material to use for a DIY bird feeder?

While you can use a variety of materials, natural ones are the best for a DIY bird feeder. Wood, pinecones, and twine are safe for birds and are naturally biodegradable if your bird feeder blows away in the wind.

How do I attract birds to my new bird feeder?

To attract birds to your new bird feeder, use a seed mixture that’s enticing to the local bird population. It also helps to place a water source and bird shelter near your bird feeder, making a sanctuary for birds to eat, drink, and rest.

How often should I clean my bird feeder?

You should clean your bird feeder every two weeks with soap and hot water. This will help prevent the spread of diseases and keep your birdseed from mildewing.

What kind of birdseed should I use?

You should use a birdseed that’s attractive to your local bird population. Most birds love sunflower seeds, for example. Avoid birdseed with lots of millet.

How do I keep squirrels away from my bird feeder?

To keep squirrels away from your bird feeder, use a feeder that couldn’t bear their weight and doesn’t give them easy access to the food inside. There are bird feeders designed to keep squirrels out, and they may be worth the investment if squirrels are eating your seed.