Hummingbirds are not picky about the design, size or style of feeder so long as tasty nectar is available, and creating a hummingbird feeder from an empty jar is an affordable project anyone can do. Turn a baby food jar into a customized, attractive feeder with this easy, versatile project, and you'll soon have an extensive feeding station that can accommodate more hummingbirds without buying more expensive feeders.
Choosing Your Jar
While baby food jars are popular for homemade hummingbird feeders, they are not the only suitable option. Any jar can be used, though smaller jars are easier to hang. The jar can be glass or plastic, and vintage jars with fun shapes, such as hexagons or old honey jars, can be fun choices. Small bottles are also suitable, as are tiny options such as test tubes or floral tubes. The jar should not have any chips or cracks, and the lip of the jar and threads for a screw-on cap should be intact, because they will be necessary to safely hang the feeder.
A jar with a plastic or metal lid is the best choice, because the lid will help slow evaporation. Glass or ceramic lids are not a good choice, however, because it will be difficult – if not impossible – to drill holes through the lid to allow the birds access to the nectar. If the jar you choose does not have a matching lid, it can still be used for a hummingbird feeder, but be aware that it will be more attractive to insects and may need cleaning and refilling more frequently.
Prepare Your Jar
To prepare a jar to become a hummingbird feeder, it must first be thoroughly cleaned. Remove the label and any glue remnants, and wash the jar thoroughly in hot, soapy water, removing all food debris along the lip or threads of the jar as well as anywhere in the jar's body. A glass jar can be cleaned in a dishwasher on the top rack, but plastic lids may need hand-washing so they do not warp.
After washing the jar and lid, sterilize them well by rinsing them first with a weak bleach solution, then rinsing several times in clear, clean water. Allow the jar and lid to dry thoroughly before taking the next steps to turn them into a hummingbird feeder.
Once the jar and lid are dry, use a nail and hammer or drill with a thin bit to gently puncture several holes in the lid. Do not have the lid attached to the jar at this point to avoid any risk of breakage. Instead, position the lid on a flat, sturdy surface or workbench and use the proper precautions for hammering or drilling. The holes can be positioned anywhere on the lid, but a cluster of 3-5 holes either in the center of the lid or on what will become the lower half of the lid when the feeder is hung will be most effective and easiest for hummingbirds to use. After puncturing the holes, run your finger gently over the surface to ensure there are no sharp edges. Gently sand any rough edges if needed so there is no possibility that birds could be snagged or injured when drinking from the feeder.
While a baby food jar hummingbird feeder can be put to use without any decorations, adding a few colorful accents can help attract hummingbirds' attention much more quickly.
Red attracts hummingbirds most, and there are several ways to add creative bits of red to a simple jar feeder.
- Attach a flat-petaled red silk flower such as a daisy to the lid, after removing the center of the flower so the feeding holes are exposed.
- Dangle red beads or crystals on an extra length of wire from the mouth or lip of the feeder, or string them on different loops or curls.
- Use outdoor paint or red nail polish to paint flowers, swirls, or other patterns on the outside of the jar.
- Wrap a red or red-patterned ribbon around the body of the feeder or tie it around the mouth, leaving a bow or streamers if desired.
- Craft polymer clay flowers or fun shapes to attach to the lid or directly over the mouth of the feeder.
- Add red beads, crystals or marbles inside the feeder, which will also elevate the nectar level so hummingbirds can more easily sip it. Note that if anything is added inside the jar, it will also need to be cleaned and rinsed whenever the nectar is changed.
Hanging the Feeder
Hanging a baby jar hummingbird feeder only requires a suitable length of wire or ribbon. Copper or steel wire that is 16-20 gauge is best and can be snugly wrapped around the mouth of the jar under the threads and twisted closed so it will not slip loose. An excess loop can have twists or curls added to it both for decoration and to provide perches for hummingbirds, and the feeder can be hung from a garden hook or plant hanger. Ribbon can be used in place of wire, but should be carefully knotted to keep it tight to the jar.
To make the jar feeder even more attractive to hummingbirds, position it near flowers and shrubs that provide natural nectar and insects the birds will also snack on. Hanging the feeder at an angle will be an easier feeding posture for hovering hummingbirds and will keep the nectar closer to the top of the jar for convenient feeding.
If you prefer not to hang the hummingbird feeder, it can be nestled in a window box or planter for hummingbirds to find, but ants and other insects will also find it more quickly so it will need more frequent cleaning.
Cleaning a Baby Food Jar Hummingbird Feeder
Not only is this hummingbird feeder easy to make, it is equally easy to clean. The jar simply needs to be rinsed out with clean water regularly; ideally each time it is refilled. If the old nectar has become especially dirty or if the feeder shows other signs of dirt or mold, disinfect it with a weak bleach solution. The lid should also be rinsed, and perches can be wiped off carefully in case they are tainted with spilled nectar or feces.
Making a nectar feeder from a jar is a fantastic, easy recycling project and a great way to turn a piece of trash into a treasure hummingbirds will enjoy for years.