Intro: Open Bird Feeder
We have used a number of different styles of bird feeders over the years and feel that an open feeder with a cover is best for ease of access for a larger number of birds at one time and for viewing the birds. Squirrels would love it but we aren't bothered by them. The wood for this feeder are pieces I had left over from other projects.
This feeder is mounted on a pipe and can be set securely in the ground or attached to an existing post. By installing an eye bolt in the center of the roof it could be hung from a branch by a light chain. We put ours right outside of the kitchen window where we can easily watch the birds.
Sheet metal 12" x 12" (license plates could work also )
9" x 9" x 1" board (plywood not recommended)
2" x 4" x 24" or 1-1/2" x 1/4" x 36" lattice
1" x 8" x 7-1/2"
2" x 4" x 4"
16-2" hex head deck screws
1/2" floor flange
1/2" pipe...6' long
paint, brush, clean-up materials
Workbench with vise
File or grinder
3/16" or 1/8" drill bit
Nut driver bit for screws
Punch (a large nail may work)
Table saw (only if you need to rip the 1-1/2" x 1/4" pieces)
Step 1: Getting Started
Round off the corners of the metal roof to avoid injury later. Draw a line across the middle of the metal roof and clamp it, at the line, to the workbench, under the 2" x 4". At the center line, bend the roof to about 40-45 degrees. Paint the underside of the roof and let it dry. It is much easier to paint it now than after the feeder is assembled.
Rip 1-1/2" x 1/4" slats from the 24"x 2" x 4" if you don't have lattice that size. Cut two pieces to match the left and right sides of the 9" x 9" bottom board. Nail them in place using wire nails so the lattice is flush with the bottom of the board. Measure for the other two ends and cut the lattice to fit. Nail in place.
Rip the 1" x 8" into four uprights about 7-1/2" long. Cut the top of each upright to 40-45 degrees to match the angle of the roof.
Align an upright in the corner of the bottom board and mark around it. This is to locate where to drill the pilot hole for the screw. Repeat for the other three corners of the bottom board. Drill a pilot hole in the center of each upright "footprint".
Drill a pilot hole, just smaller than the screw, in the bottom of each upright.
Step 2: Assembly, Part One
Clamp one of the uprights upside down in the vise. Align one corner of the bottom board, upside down, over the upright and install a screw to secure the upright. Make sure the high side of the top of the upright is to the inside. Repeat for the other three uprights. Nail the sides into the uprights you just installed.
Align the 4"- 2" x 4" in the center of the top of the bottom board. Draw around it. Remove the block and drill four pilot holes through the bottom board about 3/4" from each corner of the rectangle you drew. Also drill one in the center of the rectangle. These will be used to for the screws that will attach the 4"- 2" x 4" to the bottom of the bottom board. Drill a pilot hole in the center of the 4"- 2" x 4". This is to help with aligning the bottom board and the block.
Clamp the 4"- 2" x 4" block in the vise and, using a nail or drill bit through the center hole, position the bottom board over it. Rotate the bottom board so the sides of the 2" x 4" and the bottom board are parallel. Using the pilot holes in the bottom board as guides, drill one pilot hole through the bottom board into the 2" x 4" block. Pin it or install a screw in that hole. Drill a second pilot hole and install another screw. Once you have two screws to secure both wooden pieces you can drill the last two pilot holes and install the screws.
Step 3: Assembly, Part Two
Remove the bottom board and block from the vise and turn the wooden parts upside down on the bench. Center the floor flange on the 2" x 4" block and mark the screw hole locations. Drill pilot holes. Assemble the floor flange to the block using screws.
Reposition the feeder in the vise so that the uprights point up. Center the roof on the uprights. Lookfrom the side and mark the midline of an upright on the roof. Without moving the roof, look at the same upright from the end and mark the midline on the roof. Where the two marks cross is where you drill through the roof. Before you drill, remove the roof to the workbench and use a center punch or large nail and hammer to make a depression for the drill bit to rest in as you drill. Drilling on flat metal usually results in the bit "walking" away from where you want to drill. Reposition the roof and mark the top of the upright, through the hole in the roof. Remove the roof and drill a vertical pilot hole in the upright.
Temporarily attach the roof to the upright and repeat the mark/drill steps for the upright diagonal from the first upright you did. Once you have two holes drilled and the roof temporarily reattached, mark and drill the last two holes in the roof and the last two holes in the uprights. Secure the roof with all four screws.
Thread the pipe into the floor flange so you have something to use to maneuver the feeder as you paint it. Apply two coats of exterior paint per manufacturer's recommendations. Install your feeder where you can best enjoy it. A long (at least 24") rod pounded into the ground with a sledge hammer to the depth of 12" should make erecting the feeder easy. Just remove the rod and slip the pipe into the hole.
We feed black oil sunflower seeds for a more colorful assortment of birds. Another feeder on the other side of the house contains the regular mix and attracts most of the sparrows. Let the feeder go empty occasionally and blow out the seed hulls. An occasional scraping with a putty knife will help keep the floor clean. Once you start feeding, keep feeding.