Convert a Bird Feeder Into a Wild Bird Waterer




Introduction: Convert a Bird Feeder Into a Wild Bird Waterer

About: I am a former zookeeper. One thing you may not know, zookeepers often have to make their own specialized tools, enclosures and supplies. It's just part of the job, because there aren't really any box stores …

In dry climates, bird baths dry up in no time.  This bird waterer reduces evaporation so your birds can drink longer.

For some reason, stores do not carry bird watering devices except for bird baths or tiny little water bottles meant for caged birds.

This instructable shows how to convert a typical cheap cheap wild bird feeder into a waterer that will conserve water and require less filling than an open bird bath.

Tools required:
One inch hole saw
Razor knife (optional)
Philips screwdriver

Supplies required:
Cheap wild bird feeder
2 liter bottle
One 1/4" screw
One 1" washer
One tube of clear silicone sealant

Step 1: Drill a Hole in the Lid

Cut the top from a 2-liter bottle, leaving about 2 inches all the way around the neck. (The safest way to cut a 2-liter bottle is to use a razor knife to make a small hole, then finish cutting using scissors.

Find a spot for the bottle neck on the lid. Set it in place and move it around until you get it right. (See the photos for a good idea of the location.)

The hole should be as narrow as possible. The bigger the hole, the more caulk it will take to seal it up. Also, the bigger the hole, the weaker the seal will be.

Put the bottle neck in place, then drill a small hole for the 1/4" screw and washer. (They are used to keep the bottle neck in place. Without their reinforcement, the seal would slip and break from the twisting motion of screwing the cap on and off.)

Step 2: Seal All of the Seams and Holes

Put a blob of caulk on the screw hole in the lid, then screw the neck to the lid, using a large washer to secure it.  This will squish the blob of caulk around the screw and create a good seal. 

Finish caulking all around the inside, between the bottle neck and the lid.  Don't be stingy with the caulk.  It absolutely must be air tight, or the waterer won't work properly.

Caulk around the bottom of the center pin.

Note the other small holes in the bottom of the feeder tray and caulk them too. (There are small holes in most bird feeder trays, to allow rainwater to drain out of the birdseed.)

Put the lid back on the feeder and caulk all the way around the seam.

Caulk around the outside of the bottle neck on top of the lid.

Put some extra caulk over the screw if it sticks out of the lid. 

Caulk around the top of the center pin. 

Caulk the holes at the bottom of the feed container on the side opposite the bottle neck.  For the waterer to work, you only need to leave the one hole closest to the bottle neck open.  (If you have trouble visualizing, tilt the waterer on its side with the bottle neck turned up, as though you were going to fill it.  Caulk the holes at the bottom and sides of the feed container in this position, so that you can put in as much water as possible before it overflows.)

Set the waterer in a well-ventilated, out of the way location and be sure to allow the caulk to cure for at least 24 hours undisturbed.

Step 3: Completed Waterer

To fill the waterer: 

Tilt the waterer sideways and fill it until it starts to overflow, then screw the cap on tightly before turning it upright.

As long as you have done a good job sealing it completely, the water will remain in place, and the dish will remain full.

Alternative design:
You can put the bottle neck on the bottom of the feeder if you want to.  Then it will fill easier than this model, but it will be harder to make the bottle neck fit in the space and the seal will have more pressure on it, so it may fail sooner than this one would.



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    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes! The woodpeckers love it. I think they like to stay up in the trees whenever possible. Ours don't like to go onto the ground to drink from puddles or into the open to use birdbaths. I have also seen Steller's jays, chickadees, finches, hummingbirds and even chipmunks drink from it. I think it would depend on your climate. If there is a lot of water around, they wouldn't need it as much. Where I live, it is very dry so they visit every day.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Chipmunks also visit? How cute! I'm sure squirrels also drop by. I like your idea because the creatures can drink from a container that won't get dirty as quickly as a traditional birdbath.