How to make a bird feeder

Blue tit on fat ball studded with raisins
Make your own bird feeders this winter (Photo: iStock.com/sasimoto)

In winter, it’s much harder for birds to find all the food they need to survive. So why not give our feathered friends a helping hand? It’s fascinating to watch them enjoying the feast too!

Homemade bird feeders

Pine cone bird feeder

Pine cone bird feeder
Make a pine cone feeder (Photo: iStock.com/Warren_Price)

Mix lard and bird seed together then mush it into the gaps in a pine cone. Make sure the lard is room temperature first though, or it'll be too hard to mix!

Check out our other top tips for making cheesy pine cones too!

Recycled bird feeder

You can make a brilliant homemade bird feeder from an old juice or milk carton. It’s really easy to do. You’ll need:

  • A clean, dry carton
  • Some sturdy twigs
  • String or strong garden twine
  • Scissors
  • Bird seed

1. Cut a hole in each side of the carton (this is where the birds will feed).

2. Make a small hole in each side and push the sticks through to make perches.

3. Punch two holes in the top of the carton and thread your string through it. Hang it up.

4. Carefully tip some bird seed into the carton. Make sure you don’t spill any!

Easy homemade bird feeder

This is a great one for tiny Nature Detectives! All you need is a toilet roll, some peanut butter and some bird seed. We’ve got loads of tips for how to make this simple birdseed feeder.

Whichever bird feeder you create, make sure you clear out old food every day so it doesn’t go mouldy and make the birds poorly. If you find there’s food left over, you’re probably giving them too much.

Don’t forget they’ll need a drink so put out a bowl of water too. When the weather gets colder, you can stop it freezing by floating a small ball in it.

What to feed birds in winter

You could buy wild bird seed mix, or just put out leftovers such as bits of pastry, uncooked porridge oats (not cooked porridge as that can glue up their beak and feathers), cooked rice or over-ripe fruit. Or you could have fun making this fat maggot bird feed – don’t worry, it doesn’t contain any real maggots!

Foods to avoid

Don’t put out food that’s going off as the bacteria may make birds sick. And don’t feed them anything covered in greasy fats, such as butter or margarine, as these can clog up their feathers. Desiccated (dried) coconut is a big no-no too as it can swell in their tummies and kill them! Although bread won’t hurt them, it doesn’t contain the nutrients they need so it’s best avoided.

Who’s visiting your feeder this winter? Use our garden birds ID to help you identify them. Tell us about it and post your pictures using #NatureDetectives.

Show us your bird feeders!

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