Attracting birds to your yard or to a bird feeder can yield some interesting sights. Below is a photo of a male house finch feeding a female house finch! Easy to make bird feeders and paint-it-yourself bird houses have always been a part of our family activities and integrated into our homeschool science. Birding can easily and inexpensively be a year-round science study for your homeschool or classroom.
We have several feeders right outside our kitchen window where we have watched fledglings follow their Dad around as they are given a lesson on finding food. We often find ourselves counting the number of cardinal pairs visiting at one time (up to 5 pairs!) or in the spring, enjoy the fledglings and parents having a lesson in how to use the birdbath. When the feeders suddenly go quiet, it is second nature for us to scan the tall hardwood trees along the edge of our yard for hawks.
Birding can be very affordable. Below we share some easy to make bird feeders using peanut butter, fruit, seed, recyclables, and a few things you either have already or can purchase at the dollar store.
Easy to Make Bird Feeders Do More than Feed Birds
Below we share easy to make bird feeder projects using recycled or all-natural items. So, save those toilet paper rolls, plastic frozen food containers, paper towel rolls, plastic yogurt containers, and plastic water bottles.
But these easy bird feeder projects can be enjoyed not only in your own yard or patio area, but you can also:
- Make a feeder to share with a grandparent or other family member
- Create a bird feeder to gift to a neighbor
- Bless a nursing home with multiple easy-to-make bird feeders. Many nursing homes have an outdoor courtyard where several birdfeeders would provide a smile to the residents! We have done this, but you need to call ahead of time and speak with the resident coordinator.
- Bless a hospice facility with bird feeders for their courtyard or garden area. We have one this too, but again, call ahead before you make your feeders to get permission.
Peanut Butter and Birdseed Bird Feeders
The easy-to-make bird feeders we present here are also inexpensive to make. Let’s get into those details a little…
Supplies for the Easy to Make Bird feeders
We purchased everything, but the birdseed, at the dollar store. What you are going to need for all of the feeders here includes:
- Empty paper towel roll
- Empty toilet tissue roll
- Empty water bottle
- 6″ dowels (dollar store craft section)
- Empty large yogurt container
- Something to punch a hole in the water bottle top (See the little black-handled hole punch in the photo? That’s what we used. You can find something like that in a small screwdriver set from the dollar store.)
- Peanut butter (1 small jar is enough.)
- Foil pan
- Small craft scissors or a utility knife (You will have to cut some small slits and holes.)
- Screw eye hook (These are in picture hanging kits at the dollar store.)
A few notes about the supplies for the peanut butter and birdseed easy to make bird feeder ideas here:
- The craft scissors mentioned here were purchased at Dollar Tree in the craft section. These are fantastic for cutting the small holes in the plastic bottle and plastic yogurt container. Alternately, you can use a utility knife like the one here we also got at Dollar Tree. But, SCISSORS AND UTILITY KNIFE ARE FOR ADULT USE ONLY!
- We also bought a small screwdriver set at the dollar store to use one of the tools to punch a hole in the top of the bottle cap for the screw eye hook.
- The 6″ dowels were purchased at the dollar store. They also have 12″ ones, if you have a way to cleanly cut the 12″ dowels in half, they’ll work too. But 6″ is a good length for perches on these bird feeder projects.
- A note about seed. It is highly recommended to use quality seed and not some of the cheap seed that is comprised of much filler. So, we use mostly sunflower seed, suet nuggets, and dried mealworms in our feeders. For these projects, when we used seed, we used mainly sunflower seed.
Related: Why Study Birds?
Peanut Butter Bird Feeder #1
For our first easy bird feeder project, you only need 3 components: an empty toilet paper roll, peanut butter, and birdseed.
Use the foil pan as the work “surface, and pour seed into the foil pan.
Using a spoon or knife, spread a thick layer of peanut butter all over the cardboard roll. Spread it thick because #1: squirrels, I mean birds, love peanut butter, and #2: the more peanut butter you have, the more seeds will stick to the roll. Roll it around in the seed, making sure to press.
You can hang it two ways. Cut a string and feed it through the tube. Use this as an opportunity to have your children learn to measure with a ruler. Have them measure out 24″ of string. You won’t need all of it, but you can always cut off the extra once you know where you will hang it.
You can hang this simple peanut butter bird feeder by simply sliding it onto a twig, then tie a string from one end of the twig to the other. We used 36″ of string until we knew exactly where we were hanging this birdfeeder.
We did a little experiment with the basic peanut butter and birdseed feeder. First, we used string to hang on on a hook at our feeder area.
Then, we found the PERFECT branch with a place just for the roll! This branch version we hung up in a stand of trees on our property.
So, which did best?
The one we hung from a stick and then placed in a stand of trees did much better. Our little birds enjoyed it:
Related post: My Favorite Bird Apps
Peanut Butter and Seed Bird Feeder Using a Paper Towel Roll
The next project involves another cardboard tube – a paper towel roll. For this bird feeder, you’ll need an empty paper towel roll, 2 wooden craft sticks or 2 wooden dowels, peanut butter, and birdseed. Follow the same steps that you did for the first feeder, but cut some slits in the cardboard tube before you spread the peanut butter. It is a good idea to insert the craft sticks into the slits before spreading the peanut butter otherwise, you may never locate your slits! The craft sticks provide a place for little birds to sit while they enjoy their treat.
Easy to Make Bird Feeders Made from Recyclables
I am big on reusing plastic containers. My husband reuses them in the garage to store nails, screws, spare bolts from his varying car projects. Plastic take-out containers or frozen food containers are washed thoroughly, and I used them to send a plate of food to someone in need. We save our salad take-out containers from Zaxby’s and this past Thanksgiving, we fixed a hefty plate of food for family that is shut-in or working on Thanksgiving.
We also re-use plastic containers for bird feeders. Here are some we’ve made using an empty water bottle, a yogurt container, and a frozen food bowl. As you are washing out a recyclable, think about how you could turn it into a feeder with a little string and a pair of small craft scissors!
Plastic Water Bottle Feeder
The next one is a bit more complicated and involves a sharp object. Be sure to supervise your kids with knives, or better yet, do it for them. We discovered that a pair of craft scissors (like the ones pictured above from the dollar store) or a craft knife works best. You will need an empty plastic bottle, a 6″ wooden dowel, a funnel, a paper towel, something sharp to punch a hole, and birdseed.
- Punch a hole near the bottom of the bottle–up about an inch or two. Make a hole on the opposite side of the bottle. Then, slip the 6″ dowel through.
- Next cut a small hole right above the dowel. It should be big enough for a bird to be able to get at the seed, but not so big that they can climb inside the bottle!
- Use a funnel to fill the bottle. (This is a bit of a challenge so do this part over the foil pan.)
- Use a small screwdriver or hole punch (We used one of the small screwdrivers from our dollar store set.)
- Screw the eye hook in. (Again, you can get one of these out of a picture hanging kit.)
- Cut a piece of string about 15-20 inches long and loop through the eye hook. Tie it off and hang. You might need to adjust the length of the string.
Cut an arch-shaped hole (flat on the bottom, curved on the top) into the bottle, as near to the bottom as you can get. Make the hole big enough for the spoon to slide it and get wedged just inside. Directly across from your arch-shaped hole, cut a smaller hole as an exit for the spoon handle.
This is where we hung it up, and YES!, we did get birds. The little black-capped chickadees loved it. They are very shy and rarely come to our feeders near the house, but they loved this feeder and location. It’s hard to see him in the picture below; the bird is well camouflaged!
Recycled Yogurt Container Bird Feeder
This is a super simple bird feeder–easier than the water bottle!
Grab the following items:
- An empty large yogurt container, a sour cream container, or a cottage cheese container, cleaned and rinsed.
- 6″ dowel
- Sunflower seed
- String or floral wire
- Cut two holes for the dowel on opposite ends of the container, about an inch and a half from the bottom.
- Slide the dowel through the holes.
- Cut two holes, on opposite sides, near the top of the container.
- Cut the string or floral wire for a hanger and slip through the two holes to make a hanger. Tie it off.
- Cut a hole on one side a little bit above the dowel. We used the craft scissor with the sharp tip to do this. It so much easier working with the small craft scissors (Just $1 at the dollar store!)
- Fill the container with seed.
- Hang in your favorite place.
Easy to Make Bird Feeder from a Frozen Food Container
This one is so easy, it’s ridiculous!!
- Empty frozen food “bowl”
- Craft scissors or a small, sharp screwdriver
- Sunflower seed
Punch 4 holes on “4 corners” of the bowl.
Cut 2 pieces of string about 20″ each.
Did the birds use this bird feeder? They sure did. . .
A bluebird visited.
Then, a black-capped chickadee enjoyed the suet treat we put in the bowl.
In Addition to Making a Bird Feeder, Here are Some Other Birding Resources:
- Paint a birdhouse. We have tried four different paint-a-birdhouse kits, hands down, I prefer the Toysmith kits. The quality of the wood and paints is much better than the others we’ve tried. I recommend spraying it with a clear coat to last longer. (Top and sides. I don’t spray the front or perch where the birds will mostly be.)
- This is Toysmith’s birdhouse building kit. Again, their quality is very good for the price point.
- If you want the most fascinating bird science experience, put up a bluebird house! Watching mom and dad help their offspring fledge is fascinating. We have seen Mama literally push the fledgling with her body. This is a bluebird house we have used.
- If you put up a blue birdhouse, do not put it on a tree! Snakes can more easily gain access to it. (We have seen this happen!). Please use a pole system. Here is an example.
Cheerios And Fruit Bird Feeder
This next very easy-to-make treat is comprised of alternating Cheerios and grapes on a craft wire. Like the bird feeder above, I placed this one in the very middle of the top bar of our deck swing, but the squirrels managed to get it. The crazy things just sat on the bar and spun the circle around each time they needed a new bite.
Fruit Bird Feeders
The next two sweet treats involve fruit, a favorite of both birds and squirrels. All you need is birdseed, peanut butter, apples, and oranges. Cut a cored apple into 1/2″ inch slices, coat with peanut butter, dredge in a generous amount of seeds, thread a string through the center and tie to a tree.
You could do the same with the oranges…cut them into slices and hang them in a tree, but we found that the peanut butter slid off the juicy orange pulp too easily. To combat this issue, I cut the oranges in half and removed a small slither from the bottom of each half so they would stay motionless. Once covered with peanut butter and seeds, they became goodie bowls for the squirrels.
Suet Feeder Options
A suet feeder has been a long-time favorite product of devoted bird lovers. Wire suet feeders are inexpensive and long-lasting. Instead of using a suet cake, you can simply put a piece of bread or toast in there! Another fun non-edible way to use a suet feeder is to fill it with little pieces of yarn. Birds can pull out strands of yarn to carry off to their nests.
So go on, celebrate Earth Day by taking care of some of God’s most beautiful creatures, right in your own backyard. Be sure to get creative with your treats! And be sure to recycle the cardboard and plastic when you ready to toss them!
Just be aware that if your neighborhood is populated with squirrels, you may see this…
More Bird Study Resources
- Notebooking Backyard Birds
- Attracting Birds To Your Backyard
- Bird Beak Experiment
- Bald Eagle Unit Study Ideas
- The Great Backyard Bird Count
- Hands-On Bird Nest Study
- Hummingbird Field Trip
- Turkey Unit Study Ideas
- Why Study Backyard Birds
- My Favorite Bird Apps