Winter can be a very difficult time for wildlife. Most young animals don’t survive their first season of cold winds and low food supplies. This has been and always will be a part of the natural cycle. However, some of the hardships wildlife faces today come from changes in habitat brought about by human activities. Cities and towns have replaced the trees and shrubs where wildlife used to find food and shelter. These changes have made survival even more difficult for many species of birds.
Although supplemental feeding cannot compensate for the loss of habitat, a feeding program at home can add to personal enjoyment and foster an appreciation for nature.
Backyard birds won't know the difference between a fancy, store-bought bird feeder and one that's homemade!
Before you start, here are some things to consider:
Choose the feeder wisely.
Different types of feeders attract different types of birds. You should first decide exactly what kind of birds you want to invite. Most birds find the platform feeder quite attractive. You can even attach a roof over it to keep off rain or snow.
Don't waste money!
Choose seed and feed wisely. You don't need to buy the expensive seed mixes from the grocery store. Just get bags of white millet, black sunflower seeds, cracked or whole corn and other varieties of seed from a feed store and mix them appropriately for the birds that visit your feeders.
Location! Location! Location!
Choose a location that is close to a tree, a hedge or other places that can be used by birds for protection from the weather and predators. You should also keep in mind that placing a feeder near the ground can attract unwanted animals as well.
Do your homework! Read books and research at your local library for any specific details on birds, what feeders they find attractive and their favorite kind of food. Gather as much data as you can. You can never go wrong with too much information.
Now that we've gone through our preparatory checklist, it's time to start building. Here are some simple bird feeders to make:
Easy to Make Easy Bird Feeders for Young Children:
A link to the good old pine cone feeder.
Coffee Can Feeder
Get a coffee can with a plastic lid and clean it thoroughly. Any size can be used.
Make three evenly spaced holes in the sides of the can, near the bottom. You may use a can opener for this.
Wear your protective eye goggles. Drill a hole through the can. Do the same to a plastic plant saucer and a one inch thick piece of wood. Attach the can and saucer to the wood, with the can placed on top of the saucer that is on the wood. Use a nut, washer and a bolt for this step.
Fasten your birdfeeder securely onto a pole or a fence. Fill it with the type of bird feed you've prepared and cover the can.
Milk Carton Bird Feeder
Wash the milk carton thoroughly and dry.
Make a small cut from the milk carton and staple the opening closed.
Make a hole at middle area of the top of the carton. Make a hanger by threading a piece of string through the hole.
Put in the bird feed and hang the feeder on a tree branch.
You may paint some designs on the carton if you want.
Bottle Bird Feeder
To make a bird feeder from a drink bottle, strip the bottle of all labels and stickers.
Wash the bottle thoroughly and allow to dry.
Drill two holes at the base of the bottle. Pass a wire through one hole and out the other. Make a loop by twisting the ends of the wires.
(Sizes can vary on all feeders; use your own judgment)
Make a hole 5/16" in size on opposite sides of the bottle. Repeat to make several perches.
Insert dowels 8x9 by 5/16" in size into the pairs of holes you have made.
For a thistle feeder, puncture 1" by 1/8" holes at about 1" above the perches.
For a sunflower seed feeder, make holes that are 5 5/12" in diameter at 1 to 2 inches above the perches.
Hang the bottle upside down using the loop you made earlier.
Find a moderately straight branch, 3" to 8" diameter and cut to about 18" in length.
Bore holes straight through the log at about 1" diameter. These holes will be filled with suet.
Secure a large eye bolt at one end of the log.
Use a durable rope or chain for hanging.
Here is a simple summer bird feeder that orioles, tanagers, and other songbirds will visit to nibble at the orange halves.
All that is needed is a short piece of dowel, a length of twine, string, or coated wire, and a piece of fruit. Sharpen one end of the dowel, pierce a piece of fruit (oranges work well), knot the ends of the string or wire around the dowel ends, and hang the feeder outside in a conspicuous place.
Starlings seem to love suet enough to drive off the various woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, etc.
Make a rough cedar box using 1" wood and aluminum nails. The dimensions are about 3" x 4" x 8". The bottom of the box is a piece of perforated plastic gutter guard. The top is hinged for filling with pieces of plain suet.
The starlings seem to be the only suet-eating bird that will not eat from an upside-down position. Young downies will sit on top of the feeder while a parent will scurry underneath for a tidbit to feed them.
Scatter seeds and bread crumbs on the ground.
Hang a shallow jar filled with juice onto a tree. This should attract Orioles into your backyard.
Use the screen of an old window. Fold the loose edges toward the middle, and then fold the screen in half. Run a piece of string on the all corners and hang. Leave your birdseed cake inside.
Plaster some peanut butter over an entire pine cone and cover with birdseeds. Let this hang on a tree branch.
Punch small holes along the bottom of a pie tin. Place this on a flat surface or hang it using a plant hanger. Spread your seeds on the pie tin.
Winter Bird Feeding:
Now that you have some ideas on how to make your own bird feeder, remember that it takes a while for the birds to hear of your new feeder. Just sit back, relax and enjoy!