Intro: How to Build a "Flexi-Perch" Squirrel-proof Birdfeeder for $10 or Less
Anyone who puts up a birdfeeder hoping to to enjoy the birds will soon attract unwanted guests - squirrels. These cute but rapacious little monsters chase off the birds, eat all the seeds, and can chew birdfeeders to bits.
I've been trying to fight off squirrels since 1989, when I put my birdfeeder webcam, SeattleBirdCam.com, online. I tried ultrasound generators, slingshots, and spiking the birdseed with hot peppers - all to no avail. After studying a number of expensive "squirrel-proof" birdfeeder designs on the market, I came up with my own inexpensive patent-pending birdfeeder design which can use cable ties (tie wraps) as flexible plastic perches. These "Flexi-Perches" (tm), combined with PVC pipe of the right length and width, make an inexpensive, easy-to-build, and effective squirrel-proof birdfeeder.
Step 1: Materials
- 4" diameter plastic drain pipe at least 24" long. Quantity: 1 (a 10' pipe cost me $5.48)
- 1/2 " PVC couplers. Quantity 4 ($0.39 each)
- 4" PVC cap. Quantity 1
- PVC glue
- 3/8" sheet metal screws. Quantity 4
- 10 gauge (about 1/10") galvanized wire at least 33" long. Quantity: 1
- 6" cable ties (tie wraps). Quantity: at least 4
- wood block approx 6" high x 6" wide x 1" thick (i.e. a 6" long piece of 1x6 board)
Note on Materials:
The cable ties are critical. When used as perches, they won't support a squirrel's weight.
For maximum anti-squirrel effectiveness, the plastic drain pipe must be at least 24" long so that the squirrel can't reach feed holes while hanging from the top of the feeder.
The pipe must also be at least 4" in diameter so that the squirrel can't cling to the feeder.
The wood block will be cut down to fit into the bottom of the pipe to act as the base plate. It fits flush into the bottom of the pipe so that there are no protrusions for a squirrel to hang on to.
Other dimensions can be changed to suit whatever materials you may have on hand.
Step 2: Tools Needed
- ruler or tape measure
- drill & bits
- staple gun & staples
- spray paint
- dremel (optional)
Step 3: Make the Birdfeeder Body
Cut the 4" pipe to 24" inches long using the hacksaw. This will be the body of the feeder.
Step 4: Mark and Cut the Base Plate
Pick one end of the pipe to be the bottom of the feeder and mark it. We need to cut the wooden block so that it will fit snugly into the bottom of the feeder. Since the pipe is typically not round, we can't just cut out a 4" circle, Instead, we must mark the wood with the pipe's exact/actual outline on the inside. I chose to set the pipe on the wooden block and spray paint into the pipe. The outside edge of the painted area is our cut line.
Step 5: Fit and Mark the Base Plate
Trim and/or sand the block until it fits snugly into the bottom of the pipe. The block will act as the base plate of the feeder. The pipe will have 4 lines evenly spaced around its circumference. Mark the base plate at each of these lines and, for one of them, use a special distinct mark on both the base plate and the pipe so that the base plate can be easily lined up in the correct orientation. Use a straightedge to mark the center of the base plate.
Step 6: Drill the Base Plate
Remove the base plate and drill a 5/32" hole in the center. Put a piece of scrap wood (not shown) beneath the base plate so the drill bit doesn't hit the drill table. Put aside the base plate until a later step.
Step 7: Mark Holes for Retaining Screws
Measure 7/8" up from the bottom of the pipe at 4 equally-spaced points around the pipe. These points should be between the lines used for marking the base plate, not on the lines.
Step 8: Insert the Retaining Screws
Drill a 5/64" hole at each point, and put a screw in each of the holes. These screws act as "stops" to keep the base plate in place, while allowing the base plate to be easily removed when necessary.
Step 9: Cut the Perch Slots
Measure 1" up from the bottom of the pipe on each of the four lines used to mark the base plate. Cut a slot (centered on the line) large enough for a tie wrap to easily pass through.
Step 10: Drill the Feed Holes
Measure 1 3/8" up from each slot and make a mark on the line. Drill a 1" hole centered on each of the marks. These will be the feed holes.
Step 11: Make the Seed Baffles
Cut out a 1/3 section from each of the 4 PVC connectors. These will be the baffles that prevent seed from falling out of the feed holes.
Step 12: Put the Baffles in the Feed Holes
Use a pair of pliers to compress each baffle and force it into a feed hole, with the open side down. Leave about 1/3 of the baffle protruding out of the feed hole.
Step 13: Glue the Baffles in Place
Apply PVC glue to the outside of each baffle and force them into the pipe until the outside edge is flush with the pipe. Set the pipe aside to let the glue dry for an hour.
Step 14: Make the Hanging Loop
Form a hanging loop in one end of the wire.
Step 15: Feeder Cap
Drill a 5/32" hole in the center of the PVC cap and thread the wire through it.
Step 16: Make the "flexi-perches"
Put the base plate on your work surface with the inside facing up. Place a cable tie on the base plate (flat-side down) with the head near the center hole and lined up with one of the marks corresponding with a feed hole and perch slot. The tail of the cable tie should extend past the edge of the base plate.
Staple the cable tie wrap down securely. Do not staple more that halfway to the edge. I used 3/8" staples. You may need to use another cable tie as a spacer to prevent the staple from cutting through the cable tie.
Repeat with a cable tie at each of the other 3 marks. You have now made the flexi-perches for the feeder.
Step 17: Assemble the Birdfeeder
When the glue on the PVC baffles is dry, insert the wire into the top of the pipe until it sticks out the bottom. I decided to paint my feeder first, you may too.
Pass the wire through the base plate and bend the bottom 1" of the wire to prevent the base plate from sliding off. Make sure the base plate is oriented properly with the tie wraps on top.
Rotate the base plate until it is in proper alignment and thread the ends of the tie wraps into the pipe and out of the perch slots.
Slide the base plate into the bottom of the pipe while guiding the tie wraps out of the perch slots until the base plate hits the retaining screws. The bottom of the base plate should be flush with the bottom of the pipe.
Step 18: Final Step & Instructions for Use
Hold the feeder by the hanging loop and slide the cap onto the top of the pipe. Your feeder is complete!
Hang the feeder so that the bottom is at least 4' off the ground and the feeder at least 18" from the nearest vertical surface. Fill by sliding the top cap up and pour seed into the tube. It doesn't need to be filled up all the way.