How to Make a Recycled Bird Feeder and Use It to Hand-Feed Birds




Introduction: How to Make a Recycled Bird Feeder and Use It to Hand-Feed Birds

My favourite memory from fourth grade was a day that my class went to a nature reserve. The conservationists told me to grab some birdseed and hold it out in front of myself. All of a sudden, a bird landed in my hand and proceeded to eat some of my seeds. I was very surprised because at that point in my life I had never been so close to a bird before. Looking at them up close, they're very exotic and interesting animals, but as quickly as it came, it was gone. And I was hooked.

Sadly every year, birds are ingesting the plastic that we humans deposit into their habitats. The birds regularly confuse these plastics for food and eat it. They also feed this plastic to their chicks. This project aims to help out the birds a little. Rather than allowing plastics to find themselves in landfills, we are going to make a recycled plastic bird feeder.

Albatross at Midway Atoll Refuge (8080507529)

My design is great for people without a lot of tools and/or skills. This is also a great home-school project for kids to do. Kids enjoy feeding the birds (which you can learn to do at the end). This is also a great way for them to learn some environmental stewardship.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Materials

For this project you will need:

  • Some birdseed. I always use black oil sunflower seeds.
  • A container with a medium-sized lid, my lid is about 7cm (2.5in) in diameter. A helpful thing to keep in mind is that the bigger the container, the less you will need to refill it.
  • A lid that is about 2cm (0.8in) deep, it also has to be approximately twice as wide as your container lid. Mine is about 2cm (0.8in) deep and 12cm (4.5in) in diameter. This will be the seed basin. It is the black one in the pictures above.
  • Another lid that is of a similar diameter to your seed basin. The depth of it does not matter. This is the transparent one shown above. I call this the cap.
  • Two popsicle sticks. I think my sticks are the normal size at 11cm (4in) long. Although if you can use ones that you have used previously that would be great.
  • Some string of any kind. I used jute, but anything goes as long as it is pretty strong.

Step 2: Tools

  • Drill
  • Small drill bit, mine is 5/64 inch.
  • Another drill bit that is slightly thicker than your string, mine is 1/4 inch
  • Hot-glue gun. If yours has temperature settings, turn it to high. Higher temperatures will allow you more time to maneuver parts into the correct positions.
  • Scissors

Step 3: Make a Hole in Your Container Lid

For this step, you will only need your smaller drill bit:

  1. Mark a circle approx. 1 cm (0.4in) from the inner edge of your lid.
  2. Drill as many holes along that edge as you can.
  3. Carefully remove the center circle.

Step 4: Container Lid Holes

Drill four or five holes in parallel lines as shown in the picture in red.

Step 5: Top Holes

  1. Align the bottom of your container with your wide lid, as shown in the picture. Do not use your deep lid, as that is for a different part of the project.
  2. Now drill two holes carefully through both items. The placement is shown in red on the picture.

Step 6: Stringing Holes in the Cap

Attach your larger bit to your drill and drill the two holes marked once again in red. Make sure that the holes are pretty much opposite to each other. These will be the holes for hanging your feeder.

Step 7: Popsicle Holes

Drill a hole at the end of both sticks. Drill a couple more holes along the center. While doing this be careful not to snap the popsicle stick in half. Try to only drill about five holes per stick.

Step 8: The Glue-Filling Technique

You may be wondering why you have been drilling so many holes in odd places. Wonder no longer! These holes are for a technique that I call glue-filling.

The steps of how to glue-fill are as follows:

  1. Plug-in your glue gun.
  2. Wait until your glue gun is hot.
  3. Touch the end of the glue gun to the hole and squeeze a bit of glue through.
  4. Make a layer of glue above the hole on both sides.
  5. Repete as necessary.

Glue-filling will help the glue permanently hold parts together. You will not be just utilizing the adhesion of the glue but the hardness of it as well. On my first feeder, I didn't glue-fill and after a couple of days, it broke.

Step 9: Glue-Filling the Container Lid

Glue-fill all of the small holes in the lid. Try to join the fill for extra strength as shown in the picture.

Step 10: Glue-Filling the Popsicle Sticks

Glue-fill the popsicle stick holes.

Step 11: Gluing the Popsicle Sticks to the Container Lid

Put some fresh hot-glue over the glue-fill to glue the lid to the popsicle sticks. The sections of glue-fill should be touching. Try to move the popsicles sticks so they are parallel and centred on the lid.

Step 12: Seed Basin Holes Part: 1

This part is a little complicated so I broke it up into more manageable parts:

  1. Line the ends of your popsicle sticks (after they are glued to the lid) on the rim of the seed basin.
  2. Mark where the lines touch the edge.
  3. Drill holes on the sides of the lid just below where you marked.

Step 13: Draining Holes

With your small drill bit again drill five holes it the bottom of your lid. These will let rainwater escape from the seed basin to prevent mold.

Step 14: More Glue-Filling

Even more glue-filling, I hope that you aren't bored of it yet. This will the last time, I promise. This time you will need to be careful of some things though:

  1. Make sure not to fill in the drain holes on the seed basin.
  2. Careful when gluing the cap, mine started to melt from the heat of the glue. If this becomes a problem try turning your glue gun's temperature down.
  3. When filling the container turn it upside-down so that the glue puddles and properly seals.
  4. When filling the basin use more glue than you think. Make sure that the glue goes over the edges as shown in the picture.

Step 15: Gluing the Bottom Section Together

Now for the moment you have all been waiting for! This part you only get one chance at so double-check everything before you move on. Look back at the picture a couple of times as this will help with the positioning.

Does everything look good? Great, follow these steps:

  1. Put some glue onto the rim of the seed basin where you glue-filled.
  2. Carefully press on the lid and popsicle sticks onto the seed basin.
  3. Put some hot glue over the popsicle sticks so they are covered in glue.
  4. Reinforce the bottom of the popsicle sticks by turning the bottom section upside-down and gluing in the corners.

Step 16: Gluing the Top Section Together

Put some glue on top of where filling it on the container. Now, align the fill in the cap to the container's fill and press down to glue them together.

Step 17: Ropework Part One

  1. Cut a length of string about 30cm(1ft).
  2. Thread some string through one of the cap holes.
  3. Tie a double overhand knot and tighten.
  4. Repeat on the other hole.

Step 18: Ropework Part Two

To make the feeder hang better, tie an overhand loop in the center of the string. This also makes the feeder look nicer.

Step 19: Bird-food

The whole purpose of this feeder was to hold food, right? I personally like to use black oil sunflower seeds, so my design (this one) works with those. You should be able to use any kind of seed, theoretically. Please let me know what kind you use in the comments.

I fill about 1/3 of the container before hanging it the first time, just in case it falls down for whatever reason. This will fill to almost the top with no problems, so really it is up to you how much to put in.

Step 20: Flipping the Feeder Over

You will need to flip the feeder over right before you hang it, otherwise, it is probably better to leave it upside down.

When you do need to flip it follow these steps:

  1. Screw the seed basin on. If you can't, try melting some of the hot glue on the inside of the container lid to unblock it.
  2. Carefully slide your fingers over the hole in the lid to cover it.
  3. With your other hand flip the feeder over.
  4. Hopefully, no seed spilled out like mine did the first time.

Step 21: Hanging Your Feeder

Before you hang your feeder, you should probably think about where it will go. Birds enjoy the security of being near a tree or tall bush to quickly hide from predators. Another thing to think about while hanging it is squirrels. Where I live they are a big problem. As an attempt to deter squirrels I give my feeders a sphere of at least 2.5m(8ft) in diameter of clear space. this way squirrels can't leap onto my feeders from other branches or the ground. I also like to put my feeders in places that I will see from inside of my house.

To hang your feeder, you will need to:

  1. Tie your string to a heavy stick.
  2. Toss the stick over the branch that you want the feeder to be hung on. If you aren't tall enough like me, you can use a ladder.
  3. Untie the stick and cut the string so the two ends are about 1.8m(6ft) above the ground.
  4. Thread one of the ends through the loop on top of the feeder.
  5. Tie the two ends hanging from the tree into a square/reef knot.
  6. Step back and let go of the feeder to see if it hangs.

Step 22: How to Hand-Feed Birds

Once you have birds coming to your feeder often, (which shouldn't take long depending on where you live) you will be able to hand-feed birds. This is an amazing thing to do with kids and is a very rewarding and fun activity. What are you waiting for?

  1. Cover or take down the bird feeder. This will force birds to eat from your hand if they are hungry.
  2. Grab a small handful of birdseed.
  3. Warm it up in your hand by squeezing it.
  4. Hold your arm out in front of you, keeping as still and silent as possible.
  5. Wait until a bird comes to your hand.

Step 23: Conclusion

I hope that you have enjoyed the process of creating your own recycled bird feeder. I also hope that this has brightened up your isolation period as much as it did mine. If you have any suggestions to improve my design, that would be awesome!

If you liked this project and want to show your appreciation, voting me in the trash to treasure contest would really help me out. Thanks!

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