Recycled Bird Feeder
A juice bottle and a few scraps of wood are all you need to make this surprisingly handsome feeder.
Homemade bird feeders don't have to be homely-looking. This one is made mostly from recycled materials, yet looks as attractive as an expensive store-bought product. Kenneth Higgins designed this feeder for his yard, which overlooks Lake Buchanan in Burnet, Texas. Filled with sunflower seed, it is a favorite of the tufted titmice in his area.
It's a great project for builders on a budget or those who would like to try something new. Kenneth points out that he made three feeders like this one from a leftover piece of cedar fencing.
"That's pretty cheap," he says. "One board is all it takes, and you feel good about it because you're recycling, too."
Since wide boards tend to warp, we recommend making the roof and feeding tray from plywood, which stands up well to weather (it won't warp). Although plywood isn't as attractive, we've disguised it a bit by edging the tray with cedar.
Here's What You'll Need...
- One 1-gallon plastic juice bottle with cap
- Plywood scraps, at least 1/2 inch thick
- Cedar or pine scraps
- 1-1/4-inch galvanized deck screws
- 1-1/2-inch wire brads
- Small sheet-metal screws
- 18-inch-long light-duty rustproof chain
- Two S hooks
- Table saw
- Saber saw
- Utility knife
- Power drill
It's Time to Start Building!
- Wash and dry a 1-gallon plastic juice bottle (we used an Ocean Spray juice bottle). Mark at least 3/4 inches below the point where the bottle straightens out.
Wrap a piece of paper around the bottom of the bottle, lining up the edge of the paper with the point you've marked. (See diagrams below.) Make sure the paper is straight as it wraps around the bottle. Then trace around the edge of the paper with a permanent marker to make a cutting line.
Carefully cut (away from yourself) along the line with a utility knife or scissors. Take your time with this step because the plastic will become flimsy as you cut.
- Cut or drill three 1/2-inch holes in the narrowest part of the bottle's neck. Don't worry too much about the size of the holes—you can always enlarge them later if necessary. Start by using a smaller bit.
- Cut a scrap of plywood 6-1/2 inches square for the seed tray.
- Rip trim pieces that will make a tray 1 inch deep (thickness of plywood plus 1 inch). They'll overlap at the corners, so the four bottom trim pieces should measure 6-1/2 inches plus the thickness of the wood you're using. Attach them to the tray with 1-1/2-inch wire brads. Drill a 1/4-inch drainage hole in each corner of the seed tray.
- Cut a scrap of plywood 10 inches square for the roof. The larger roof will protect seed in the feeding tray from rain and snow. Trim the roof edging in the same manner as the seed tray in step 4.
- From another scrap of plywood, cut a disk to fit the diameter of the wide part of the bottle. Measure the diameter of the wide opening and use a compass to draw the circle, or trace around the bottle. Cut the piece with a saber saw right on the cutting line. This will allow the piece to slip in and out of the bottle easily when you fill the feeder. Center and attach the disk to the underside of the roof with four 1-1/4-inch deck screws.
- Drill a hole through the center of the roof pieces. Connect opposite corners with straight pencil lines. They'll meet in the center of the board. (It's important that this hole be centered or the feeder will not hang straight.) Make the hole just large enough for the chain you'll use to hang the bird feeder.
- Remove the cap from the bottle and carefully drill two holes near its outside edge. Start with a small drill bit and gradually increase the size until the small sheet-metal screws fit through it easily. Do not apply pressure while drilling. Going slow and sure like this will keep the plastic cap from cracking. Attach the cap centered in the feeding tray with the small screws, but don't tighten them too much or the cap may crack.
- Drill a hole through the center of the bottle cap and tray. Again, increase the drill bit size gradually. Be very careful when starting the hole—drill slowly so the cap doesn't break.
- String the chain through the roof, bottle and tray. Loop the top of the chain or use an S hook for hanging. Attach another S hook at the bottom to keep the chain from slipping up through the feeder. Close the hook with pliers. Hang it, fill it and let the wild birds come and get it!