Making a plastic bottle bird feeder is a fast, easy project and a great way to recycle for the birds. These simple feeders are also perfectly functional and can help backyard birders feed more birds without purchasing expensive feeders.
To make a plastic bottle bird feeder, you will need:
- Plastic bottle – 2 liter bottles are most common, but any size will work, including water, sports drink or soda as well as plastic ketchup, jelly or other bottles or jars
- Perches – thin dowels, unsharpened pencils, chopsticks, twigs, wooden spoons, etc.; ideally 8-10 inches long and no more than a quarter-inch thick
- Metal screw hook for hanging
- Awl or other tool for making small holes – knife, nail, etc.
Note: While this project is easy enough for children, proper supervision should always be present.
- Clean and dry the bottle thoroughly, removing any labels. Use a weak bleach solution to be sure the bottle is sanitized, then rinse thoroughly. Allow the bottle to air dry for several hours or overnight if possible to ensure no moisture remains inside that could potentially cause seed to spoil.
- Screw the hook in the center of the cap, making sure it is firm and tight. If necessary, use the awl or nail to start the hole to make screwing the hook in easier. After the hook is fully inserted, seal both sides (inside and out) with a drop of glue – this will provide extra security and keep moisture out of the feeder. Avoid getting clue on the cap's threads, however, as you will need to open the bottle for filling.
- Cut holes large enough to fit the perches 1.5 inches from the bottom of the bottle. The perches should fit snugly into the holes and extend completely across the bottle and out the matching hole on the opposite side. When inserting the perches, balance the length of the perch on each end to allow birds to feed comfortably. A small bit of glue can also be used to secure perches and keep the holes from widening or loosening.
- If desired, add additional perches higher on the bottle. Each perch should be 2-3 inches higher than the last, and rotate where the perches are on the bottle to take advantage of the most space for feeding birds. The highest perch should be 3-4 inches below the cap.
- Cut feeding ports 1-2 inches above each perch. Ports should be 1/8-1/4 of an inch wide depending on the seed type; use larger holes for mixed seed or sunflower seeds and smaller holes for Nyjer or millet. Oval-shaped holes taller than they are wide will be easier for birds to feed from.
- Fill the feeder slowly with the desired seed. If the feeding ports are too big, placing a piece of clear tape snuggly over them inside and out and recutting smaller holes in the tape can fix the problem. If desired, add crumpled paper, decorative marbles or gravel to fill the very bottom of the feeder so less seed is below the feeding ports and out of reach of birds.
- Hang the feeder outside and wait for birds to discover it! Feeders can be hung from small branches or hooks, or string can be looped around the cap hook to hang the feeders in other areas.
More Ideas for Water Bottle Bird Feeders
If you have more plastic bottles than you know what to do with, there are other bird feeder designs you can try, such as...
- Cutting a single broad feeding window from one side of the bottle, 2-3 inches from the bottom. This feeder will only hold as much seed as the bottom of the bottle will hold, but there is no need for extra perches and the feeder can be hung and used more quickly.
- Turning the bottle upside down to create a seed or nectar reservoir, and purchasing ready-made feeder and perch attachments to convert the bottle into a nifty feeder. This is fast and easy, but does require the extra purchase of the attachments.
You can also use plastic water bottles or soda bottles in other ways to help birds, including...
- Using bottles to create a loose, movable baffle to keep squirrels from climbing poles or wires
- Cutting the bottom off a large bottle to use it as a weather guard to protect a small feeder
- Converting half a bottle into a simple ant moat to keep insects out of nectar feeders
Tips for Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders
To keep your new bird feeder at its best for the birds…
- Clean or replace the feeder regularly to avoid spreading diseases to backyard birds.
- Experiment with different types of birdseed to attract the widest variety of birds.
- When refilling, put any uneaten seed into a platform or ground feeder so it can be eaten quickly.
A plastic bottle bird feeder is easy to make and a joy to watch; experiment with making different feeders out of different bottles to quickly and cheaply add to your backyard buffet.