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How to make a bird feeder: easy homemade feeders

Attract birds to your garden with these cheap and simple feeder ideas.

Bird cake

Don’t worry, no baking is required. This quick and easy treat is packed full of energy to keep birds going, especially important in cold weather. Design your own recipe or use whatever’s to hand.

Perfect ingredients

  • sunflower hearts
  • peanut pieces and other bird seed mixes
  • dried fruits softened with water
  • crumbled or grated cheese
  • cooked rice and other leftovers
  • breadcrumbs

Things to avoid

  • uncooked rice
  • salted nuts or other foods
  • whole nuts or fruit which could choke

Method

  • Combine your chosen ingredients in a bowl and add softened lard or dripping
  • Mix together into a firm paste. For best results you’ll need to get your hands in there – a great activity for kids, if a bit messy!
  • Pierce the bottom of a clean yoghurt pot and poke a length of string through
  • Knot securely on the inside of the pot so that it hangs upside down like a bell
  • Fill with the fat mixture and hang outside

Top tip: For a more natural-looking feeder, try smearing the mixture into the grooves and cavities of pine cones, or fill the empty halves of coconut shells.

Recycled feeder

If you want to avoid a sticky fat mixture, turn used cartons into seed holders.

Method

  • About half way up the sides, cut large, square windows into each side of an orange juice or smoothie carton
  • Pierce a hole at the same height beneath opposite windows, making one pair of holes slightly lower than the other
  • Thread long, thin twigs through these holes to make the perches
  • Punch two more holes through the lip at the top of the carton to fasten string for hanging the feeder
  • Fill with a bird seed mix and Bob’s your uncle

Squirrel-proofing

There are a number of tricks you can try if you’d like to make things a little harder for greedy squirrels, depending on where you hang your feeders.

Feeder on a pole?

Try mixing chilli powder with Vaseline and smearing over the pole. The slippery mixture is difficult to grip, and squirrels won’t like the hot taste of the chilli they’ll need to clean from their fur. Mixing chilli with bird seed can also put them off but won’t bother the birds.

Feeder hanging from a washing line?

Thread short lengths of hose or plastic bottles on the line to either side. They’ll spin when a squirrel tries to scurry along them.

Feeder hanging down on a line?

Make your own squirrel baffle by punching a hole through the bottom of a plastic mixing bowl. Tie a knot in the string the feeder hangs from so that the bowl will sit inverted over the top.