Introduction: Water Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Picture of Water Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird feeders can get pretty expensive. I decided to build one for less than $8.00! What can be more green that feeding a beautiful specie of nature, while recycling at the same time!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
I found all of the materials other than the water bottle, at my local Lowes. You can find any of these materials at a local hardware store.
  • 1/4'' Copper Tubing $6.48 for 5 feet at Lowes. Make sure it is pliable.
  • Caulk/Sealant $1.28 at Lowes. Food safe caulk would work the best.
  • Water bottle- You can find these in the trash.

  • Drill with a 1/8 in. drill bit
  • Hacksaw to cut the copper tubing
  • Measuring device

Step 2: The Cap Hole

Picture of The Cap Hole

Take your drill, and using the 1/8 in. size drill bit, drill a hole directly in the center of the cap. We are using a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the copper tubing. This way, when we fit the copper tubing into the cap, there won't be mush extra space. Water bottle caps sometimes have a little piece of plastic right in the center of the cap, so you can use that as your guideline.

When you finish drilling the hole, try to remove and excess plastic pieces that are in the cap.

Step 3: Cut the Tubing

Picture of Cut the Tubing

Take your copper tubing, and measure 6in. from the end. I made my feeder with about 2in. inside of the bottle, and about 4in. outside of the bottle. Mark the six inches , and then take your hacksaw and cut the piece.

Step 4: Double Checking

Picture of Double Checking

Take the piece of tubing you just cut, and push it through the hole on the cap that you just drilled. You want it to be fairly snug, and if it is too loose, then find a new cap and drill a slightly smaller hole.

If the piece of tubing is secure, then we can move on.

Step 5: Seal

Picture of Seal

Take your sealant, and on both sides of the cap, place sealant around the tubing where it is in contact with the cap.

This will be crucial when we fill it up with feed.

Then let it dry. To be safe, let it dry for a good 24 hours.

Step 6: Bend

Picture of Bend

Once the caulk/sealant has dried, take the longer end of the copper tubing, and slightly bend it. Do not bend it to a right angle, about 45-60 degree angle would work.

Step 7: Building the Hanger

Picture of Building the Hanger

Time to build the device that will hold the feeder up. Find a metal clothing hanger, and clip off the top hook, and you can discard it.

Now stretch the hanger out into a straight line. On on end of the hanger, make a little hook. Now wrap the one end of the hanger (the side with the hook) around the mid-section of the bottle. As the end with the mini hook meets up with the rest of the hanger, clip the hook around it, securing it to the bottle. The third picture will help you visualize this.

Now, on the other end of the hook, make a more rounded hook, big enough to that it can hook on to wherever you want to hand the feeder up.

Step 8: Fill It Up

Picture of Fill It Up

Fill the bottle up as much as you can with a hummingbird feed.

Here is a recipe that I found via Thrifty Fun,
Bring 4 cups water to a boil and stir in 1 cup sugar. Stir to dissolve. When cool, pour into the pitcher and refrigerate until needed.

The above recipe is relatively simple, and very inexpensive, as opposed to purchasing hummingbird feed straight from a store.

Pour your feed into the water bottle, screw the cap on tightly and securely, place the feeder up, and there you go!


BillM163 (author)2016-07-05


741741452 (author)2015-01-14

for what

unjust (author)2009-01-14

please use food safe caulk! any adhesive is NOT ok, as they can leach some NASTY things and you;ll kill your lil visitors. look for "food safe" or safe for use on aquariums. generally this is ONLY silicone caulk, not silicone "II"

trigo108 (author)unjust2014-07-23

LesB (author)unjust2012-09-09

There is an "aquarium safe" silicone. That would work.

jatrophacostarica (author)unjust2009-10-07

instead of caulk, you could use wax.  Just melt a candle and add a few drips to the cap.  Cheap, earth-friendly, and nontoxic (use plain wax, not scented, just in case)

or bubble gum. seriously.  mash it in.  it'll last a frighteningly long time.

or a cork (from wine, for example)

sbees (author)2013-12-19

Interesting but not safe for the hummingbirds, the sharp edges of the cut copper tubing, may hurt them........When you cut any kind of metal, it leaves VERY sharp edges, that needs to be file.

foobear (author)2013-07-11

I love that copper tubing - so beautiful. Love hummers too!

rhudson6 (author)2013-03-17

how do you keep water in? from just leaking right out

chriself (author)2009-01-15

Does the angle on the pipe keep the nectar from running out? Or does it drip? I don't want to attract bees or hornets to the ground under my feeder.

Brennn10 (author)chriself2009-01-15

The wonderful concept of gravity keeps the liquid in the water bottle. At the tip of the pipe, it pools a little bit, so when the hummingbird comes to feed it sucks it up. And yes, the angle on the pipe does help to keep the liquid from draining out, because the more air in the top, the more will be pushed out.

chriself (author)Brennn102009-01-15

Ah,gravity, that's the thing that keeps us from floating off of the earth, right? :P Thanks for explaining and for the great instructable! I can't wait to try it out!

finton (author)chriself2012-09-21

Chriself, Brennn10 is ... er ... mistaken: gravity is what's trying to pull the water out of the bottle. It is the wonderful concept of air pressure that keeps the water in.
As water is removed from the bottle by the birds, a vacuum is created inside the bottle. Nature* abhors vacuums** apparently and tries to fill it in - this is air pressure: at sea level this is about 101.3 kPa or 14.7 psi (see Wikipedia for "Atmospheric Pressure"). Because the bottle's pipe is pointing down, the two forces of gravity and air pressure oppose each other, with air pressure winning until additional force is applied by capillary action*** or birds sucking (an opposing vacuum).
The pipe diameter makes a difference: roughly speaking, a wide pipe means that the air pressure is spread over a greater area (so for a square-inch-area-sized pipe the pressure is 14.7 pounds and for a quarter-square-inch-area-sized pipe the pressure will be four times the amount: 58.8 pounds****). The bend in Brennn10's pipe is helping because it is restricting the area of the pipe.
If the bottle is not rigid enough, the sides will collapse, reducing the volume - and therefore the vacuum - in the bottle, allowing gravity to win for a bit.

* ...and teenagers and some adults, if their rooms are anything to go by.
**...the only reason we have an atmosphere is because the same "thing that keeps us from floating off of the earth" is also stopping our air flying off into the vacuum of space. Good design, that. 
*** when you touch the end of the pipe and water flows over your fingers until the increased vacuum in the bottle overrides it.
**** ...or thereabouts, but you get the idea.

pbmcm (author)Brennn102009-03-17

Have you tried with multiple tubes? I presume that the more surface area you have on the bottom the more easily it will drip. But would two tubes still cut it if you could fit both in the cap?

Van_Franklin (author)2011-05-17

OK I made one all the water drained out as soon as I up ended it. I used a cork instead of the cap but it sealed off the water when I plugged the tube end. So no air getting in there. Any ideas?

khouse2 (author)Van_Franklin2011-11-19

did you get this to work?

Van_Franklin (author)2011-05-17

A hacksaw leaves really jagged edges. I used a pipe cutter for this step =)

wren99 (author)2010-09-22

Any reason one couldn't use a straw instead of pipe?

kcli (author)2009-01-19

Definitely worthy of my vote and I can't wait to make some! Because hummers are attracted to red (and red dyed sugar water is a no-no), perhaps some red sharpie accents/highlights would bring even more visitors.

Brennn10 (author)kcli2009-01-19

Thank you! Yes, I have read that the dye is not very healthy for the hummingbirds. Maybe a little paint around the bottle will help it attract more birds.

Shut Up Now (author)Brennn102009-06-06

what about using beet to dye the water?

pbmcm (author)Brennn102009-03-17

You could also add a fake flower to the tip, but I wonder if it would rest against the tip and wick the nectar out (creating a drip).

Shut Up Now (author)2009-06-06

great ible, and for anyone that doesnt have a drill, you could try melting the hole too.

ty.melvin (author)2009-04-25

What is keeping the liquid from just draining out the end?

Kaiven (author)ty.melvin2009-05-18

Atmospheric pressure (I think). It won't drain unless there is a whole in the top for air to flow through. If the water left the bottle without a hole, a vacuum would form. This keeps the water in place.

hurten (author)2009-04-27

If you have a problem with ants invading your feeder, you could add a little bend in your hanger wire between the feeder and the hook end. Then attach a cotton ball soaked in any type of cooking oil. The cotton ball must be wrapped around the wire completely. The oil will keep the ants from laying down a scent trail to get to the sweet food mix.

HummerGal (author)2009-01-26

I have also located a website that offers an inexpensive bee-proof hummingbird feeder base that will be very handy to folks who have a lot of bees in their area. You simply use their base and your recycled Coke or water bottle and you have an inexpensive, bee proof hummingbird feeder. You can find them at: Great idea for kids too!

=SMART= (author)2009-01-13

Very good !, We sell these at my garden center and the good ones cost about £30/$60 ! p.s. ........ Is that bird photoshopped ?

Brennn10 (author)=SMART=2009-01-13

Yea, the picture in Step 8 is photoshopped. In this cold weather, I feel it is impossible to capture a picture of a hummingbird feeding at this time of year.

=SMART= (author)Brennn102009-01-14

Of course, Very good photoshopping though !

stncilr (author)=SMART=2009-01-14

hehe, if that was real the hummingbird would be extremely small!

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