Want to feed the birds (not only chickadees)? Enjoy a Java and build yourself a CHICKADEE 9000 coffee cup bird feeder!
Almost everyone needs coffee these days, and almost every bird needs to eat. Two great desires are satisfied in this DIY that anyone can build on the cheap.
NOTE 1: I usually recommend avoiding disposable coffee cups altogether. But if you do buy one, here's a way to get some lasting value out of it.
NOTE 2: Black (Oil) Sunflower Seeds are an amazing source of protein for many back-yard birds.
Step 1: STEP 1 - Drink a Coffee
This is where the fun begins. Go to your favourite coffee shop and order some java-juice!
The beauty of STEP 1 is how good it tastes, and how any size cup will work. Small, Medium, Large & even Extra-Large. Drink it all up and don't leave any drips around. Birds don't like coffee... especially the decaffeinated kind.
NOTE: I have heard that this will also work with cups that have had TEA in them. I haven't tested this out myself but it is plausible <grin>.
Step 2: STEP 2 - Gather Supplies
It won't take much to build a CHICKADEE 9000. Get a few things together (including a few friends with their own cups!).
Let the $1 store be your friend. In fact, that's where I found almost everything, including the sunflower seeds. The only thing I had to find elsewhere was the wooden perch. Regular popsicle sticks are too short, but it just so happens that wooden coffee stir-sticks are perfect! Some coffee shops have them, some don't, so keep looking.
HINT: Starbucks and 7-Eleven stores usually have lots.
Step 3: STEP 3 - Plan Your Perch
Most birds will tell you that they like to stand on something while eating a free meal. The CHICKADEE 9000 obliges.
A wooden coffee stir-stick makes a perfect perch. The ones I use are about 7" long by 1/4" wide. I found them at a more expensive coffee shop that would never carry the plastic variety. That's good because the brown plastic ones are too flimsy for this.
Turn your empty coffee cup over and center the stick over the bottom. You want to mark the locations for the 2 small cuts you'll be making in the base of the cup. You want these cuts to be in the thick paper fold of the base, not in the part that holds coffee.
While you're at it, mark the center of the cup bottom and give it a quick jab with a pen tip... the shoelace / string will come through here. Make the perch incisions with a sharp knife and slide the stick through the slots. Voila!
Step 4: STEP 4 - Feed Flow Flap
It won't be long now before the CHICKADEE 9000 "automatic food flow " will be delivering seedy goodness.
All you need are two seed holes. Make these somewhere above the perches and you can't go wrong. The sunflower seeds will gently trickle down through the holes and into anxious bird beaks.
The trick is to make the holes the right size... so seeds don't spill out too freely, but will be accessible to the birds. I made mine about 3/4" across and 1/2" high to accommodate the sunflower seeds. Cut 3 sides and bend the flap down at the bottom.
Step 5: STEP 5 - String Theory
To suspend your new CHICKADEE 9000 bird feeder, a wee bit of twine or shoelace will do the trick.
About 2 feet should be sufficient for hanging in most cases; more if the situation requires it. First slide the perch out of the way and push one end of the string through the bottom hole. Reach into the cup and pull the string through almost to the end.
Now push the perch back into position and tie a simple bow knot around the stir-stick. It won't take much to hold everything in place snugly. I like using $1 store shoelaces for this because of their strength and nice clean ends.
Step 6: STEP 6 - Cap It Off
Hopefully you kept your cup lid for the top of the CHICKADEE 9000. It's a perfect waterproof addition.
Here's the thing, if you pulled the drinking tab back - to drink your coffee - it will be a little less impervious to rain. BUT, if you happened to have set it aside and left it in original condition, well, then you have a superior cap. Either way it'll work.
Poke a small hole in the center with your pen tip. (In some cases a vent hole is already located there.) Next, push the string from the cup through the underside of the lid. Pull the string through but leave room to put the sunflower seeds in! Now you can close it.
Your DIY bird feeder has completed its transformation! HINT: If you previously pulled the drinking tab back, an elastic around the outside edge of the lid should keep everything in place.
Step 7: STEP 7 - Fill 'er Up
The birds will love you for making a brand new CHICKADEE 9000... but only if you fill it up.
I found a bag of black sunflower seeds (aka - black oil sunflower seeds) at my local $1 store. One bag was enough to fill two large coffee cups. Depending on the number of repeat customers you get you may want to buy something a little larger.
NOTE 1: As with any bird feeder, you are bound to get spillage onto the ground. That's how birds operate. With any luck you'll be enticing the ground-feeding birds as well... and the occasional squirrel. Hey, they gotta live too.
NOTE 2: The CHICKADEE 9000 is a great bird feeder, but it won't last forever. Depending on conditions and bird variety you'll need to swap it out with a new one after a while. Untie the string underneath, remove the perch, and re-install on another used cup!
Step 8: STEP 8 - Sit Back and Enjoy!
Congratulations, you did it! You recycled a disposable coffee cup, gave food to the birds, and saved the planet (a little).
Now all you need to do is tell everyone you know about the CHICKADEE 9000 coffee cup bird feeder. There's a LOT of people drinking coffee out there... and a ton of birds to be fed. Those little guys are going to be singing your praises.
I can't wait to hear how yours worked out. Here's a link for advice on top ten winter bird foods.