You can spend hours hummingbirds them, and even capture amazing pictures of them. They are also associated with good luck. Whether you already have them coming to your home or you wish to attract them, having a hummingbird feeder is a great way to be welcoming to these guests.
Instead of spending a bunch of money buying a feeder, you can just build one yourself. With a glass bottle, a plastic box, and a small clay pot, you can make your very own hummingbird feeder!
There are plenty of ways to DIY a hummingbird feeder. You can use plastic bottles, glass bottles, mason jars, and pretty much anything you want. But as you experiment with different kinds, you’ll find each has its cons.
How Do You Make A Hummingbird Feeder?
Your DIY hummingbird feeder can be as basic or as elaborate as you want it to be. You can just use a bowl to hold your sugar water and be done with it.
But let’s first go over the items you’re going to need. Chances are you have them lying around the house. If you don’t you can use alternatives as well.
There are essentially going to be 3 parts to our feeder: the bottle, the “saucepan” and the ant moat. Here’s what you’ll need to make each of them:
Items you’ll need:
A glass bottle with a screw-on cap
12-gauge florist wire
Beads ( optional)
An aluminum/plastic container with a plastic lid
A pen or a Sharpie
Drill with ¼ inch and ½ inch bits
Thin plastic plate (preferably in a bright color)(optional)
Glue gun/Waterproof glue(non-toxic)
1 ½ inch terracotta flower pot (1)
2 ½ x 3/16 inch eye screws (2)
3/16 inch nuts (2)
3/15 inch coupling nut (1)
Waterproof silicone sealant (1 tube)
First thing first, take your sharpie or pen. Mark the lid of your container with the outline of the rim of your glass bottle. Then use the outline to cut a hole in the middle with your hobby knife. Make sure that the bottle rim can go inside the plastic lid. You don’t have to be precise but ensure that the hole is more or less centered.
It’s best to use a container that you can secure the lid on tightly so that when the feeder is hung, the container doesn’t fall off because of the weight. Try to get those containers that have a clasp on the lid or that you can screw into place so that it’s secure.
I used an aluminum container with a plastic lid. Plastic can often leak harmful substances in the water, so it’s best to avoid it when storing the food. But we need the lid to be plastic because otherwise, you can’t cut a hole in it.
Then you cut small holes across the rest of the lid, for the birds to feed on. I used a ¼ inch bit to drill four holes spaced evenly apart.
If you don’t have a drill, then you can use your knife to do this. Make sure to leave enough room on the outer edge so the birds have a place to sit on while feeding.
Then we’re going to be making the flowers to decorate these holes. This is optional, and you can just leave the holes as is. But making them look like flowers will attract more birds seeking nectar. If you skip the flowers, try to incorporate red in the decoration, so that birds can see your feeder from a distance.
To make plastic flowers, take a colorful plastic sheet (I used red) and cut 1 ½ inch circles out of them. You can use scissors or your anti-cutter. Then you punch a hole in the middle of each of them, trying to match them with the size of your feeder holes. You can use a hole punch for this.
Then you cut out six slits across the circle, as evenly spaced as you can. Then you cut the edges to make them round and so that they resemble flower petals. Bend them slightly to give the petals dimension and get them looking like flowers.
Stick the flowers on your plastic lid using waterproof glue or a glue gun. Align the holes of your flower with the holes on the lid.
Remember to use non-toxic glue, so that it does not poison the birds or harm them in any way. Let them dry overnight. And the saucepan part is ready.
Now we move on to the glass bottle. It’s important to use a bottle that has a screw-on cap. You can use milk bottles or old recycled bottles, tequila bottles, anything you want. You can even use plastic bottles or other containers, but I recommend using glass.
You’re going to use the florist wire to wrap around the bottle so you can hang it upside down. This is where you can go as creative as you like. I used beads in the wires to decorate my bottle, but you can use colorful tapes or stickers or whatever you like to decorate your wire and bottle.
You can even use glass paint to make your bottle pretty and colorful. They look amazing in the sun.
Once you’ve decorated your bottle to your liking, you take the wire and wrap it around the neck of the bottle, tightly. Stop after, 2-3 loops around the neck, putting in beads in the middle if you like. Knot any loose ends with a scissor or your hands, so they are all tied together.
Then take two long pieces of wire and attach them to the last loop on the neck by twisting them. The ends should extend long enough to reach the end of the bottle and still have at least 6 inches left.
Then you take those loose ends, and turn your bottle upside down, hanging the bottle by the wires. This is to let the wires wrap around the bottle, and secure it in place with gravity. Take another piece of wire and wrap it around the bottom of the bottle to make a loop.
Use your long ends to twist around this loop on both sides, so that it stays in place. Then tie the remaining length of those loose ends together, leaving a little space. It should look something like a half-circle or a handle. This is so you can hang the bottle.
Then you use a half-inch drill bit to drill a hole into the bottle cap, so water can flow through. I used a drill, but if you don’t want to you can use an old pen or even a knife to make a hole in the cap. It doesn’t have to be neat, no one will see this part.
You can make a few holes, not too small, so that water can flow through smoothly. But not all at once, so that it becomes too heavy. Then you slide the rim of the bottle through the plastic lid and screw the cap into place.
Remember to keep the flowers on the side of the bottle, not the cap; so that when hung upside down, the flowers are upright. Then you just put the lid onto your container, tightening it as securely as you can. And you’re done! This should work just fine as a bird feeder, but we’re gonna go one step further and make an ant moat as well.
The sweet water in your hummingbird feeder not only attracts birds but also ants as well. These repel hummingbirds away and it’s important to protect your feeder from them. I used a small terracotta flower pot, which is prettier and more durable than plastic. But if you want, you can just use a plastic cup or cap as well.
Since you’re going to be hanging the feeder, ants can crawl through the wire and get to the feeder. By placing a moat on top of the bottle, ants aren’t able to pass through the water barrier.
You’re going to take one of the nuts and screw them all the way down on the eye bolt. The eyebolt is going to act as the hook to hang your feeder. Then you insert the bolt through the bottom of the flower pot. If you’re using a cap, then you’ll need to drill a hole in the bottom at this stage.
When buying the flower pot, remember to match the size with your nut. The nut should be slightly larger than the hole at the bottom and should stop the pot from passing through the bolt.
Then you pour a small amount of the sealant into the pot, covering the eye bolt. Hold the bottom nut in place, so that it’s completely watertight. Then you screw another nut down the eye bolt before the sealant dries.
Once the seal is tight enough, you take a connecting bolt halfway into the eye bolt and screw the other eye bolt into place. This will act as the hook that you use to hang to the tree or railing or wherever you’ll hang your feeder.
Leave the silicone to dry for 24 hours. Once it’s dry, it’s time to assemble all your parts. Insert your feeding solution into the bottle. Then screw on the cap with the plastic lid and then seal the container into place.
Turn the bottle upside down, as the solution drips into the container. Hang the wire loop of your bottle to the eyebolt of the ant moat. Fill up the ant moat with water, and hang it up! You’re done! Just remember to refill the ant moat every once in a while, as the water will evaporate.
Do Hummingbirds Prefer Glass Or Plastic Feeders?
Hummingbirds themselves don’t have a preference when it comes to the material of their feeder. They are more concerned with what’s inside. But a lot of people are concerned with the use of plastic in feeders, because they may contain BPA(chemical that can be toxic). They can seep into the solution over time.
However, the effect of BPA on hummingbirds has not been scientifically observed. So, many people still prefer plastic feeders because they are lighter and don’t break.
But there are still plenty of feeders that you can buy which claim to be BPA-free. When making one yourself, however, you can’t ensure that the plastic is BPA-free, so it’s best to use glass when you can. This is why I’ve used as little plastic as possible in making the feeder.
Glass is also much easier to clean and much more long-lasting. But they can fall and break easily and they are also quite heavy. With the added weight of the solution and the birds, these feeders do often fall off the wires. If you’re worried about that, you can use chains instead of wires for a more sturdy version.
So when it comes to choosing the best hummingbird feeder, it’s really up to you. The birds don’t have a particular preference, and you can decide whether you want glass or plastic, or even acrylic.
Where Should You Hang A Hummingbird Feeder?
Perhaps the best place to hang your hummingbird feeder would be to hang it about 10-15 feet away from a tree or a shrub. Hummingbirds tend to sit and rest in the shade when they aren’t feeding. So having a tree nearby, where they can rest is a good idea.
Don’t hang the bird feeder completely in the shade though. They might miss it or not see it, and you won’t be able to properly see them feeding either. Directly placing it in the sunlight isn’t a good idea either. Try to choose a moderately sunny place, but away from direct sunlight. It should be sunny enough so that the feeder falls within their vision.
You should keep in mind your distance from the feeding place as well. These birds are really small. It shouldn’t be so far away that you can’t see the birds properly. But don’t keep it close to your windows or glass doors. You don’t want them to accidentally fly into a glass and hurt themselves.
Remember to also keep it in a place where you don’t accidentally drop it or break it; away from distractions and kids playing.
Feeders leaking is also very common. So make sure that even if your feeder does leak, the solution falling doesn’t ruin any of your furniture or wood.
If you are placing multiple feeders, try to space them out from one another. Don’t just hang them side by side. They should be at least 10 to 12 feet apart. Often more aggressive birds can hoard all the solutions for themselves and scare away other birds.
Placing them a good distance apart reduces competition among hummingbirds and even the more timid ones can feed at peace. This also means you can get to see the hummingbirds from different places in your yard.
Should A Hummingbird Feeder Be High Or Low?
A hummingbird feeder should be low enough so that you can access it easily, to refill and clean it. But it should also be high enough to keep away other uninvited guests like mice, squirrels, or cats. So a good height is usually 5 feet above the ground. Or up to your shoulders.
This way you can easily access the feeder and change the water when you need to. You can also easily take it off and clean it, and refill it. But this also makes it easy for the hummingbirds to spot. They can come and feed at ease as well.
But often, if you are hanging the feeder from a tree, the tree will decide the height for you. Still try to ensure that the branch isn’t too high so you can’t reach it.
With a little time and effort, you too can make your very own hummingbird feeder. You can customize it however you like and you can make multiple different ones to hand around the yard.