5 Simple Ways to Make Bird Feeders

Bring life back to your frozen garden this winter by attracting non-migratory birds using one (or all) of these methods to make bird feeders.

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No matter what season it is, birds in the garden or backyard indicate a healthy habitat. They bring a variety of benefits to the garden: they reseed wild berries and plants with their droppings, they eat the pesky insects that invade during the warmer months, and they aid in lawn aeration as they search for worms and bugs in spring. Here are 5 simple ways to make bird feeders that will entice the native species of birds into the garden now and encourage them to stick around for the warmer months. Not only will you be able to enjoy bird-watching from inside your cozy home, the birds will appreciate the extra food source as well to help them get through another beautiful, yet brutal, New England winter.

Suet Bird Feeder

5 Simple Ways to Make Bird Feeders


Recycled Plastic Jug (Variation 1)

Make a simple bird feeder by cutting around the bottom of a clean plastic detergent bottle with sharp scissors. Punch 4 holes around the rim, tie string through the holes and gather together at the top to hang. Fill with bird seed and watch the birds gather.

Recycled Plastic Jug (Variation 2)

This technique will also work when using cardboard milk and juice containers. Wash the empty container and let dry. Punch a hole in the top of the container and put floral wire or a bread twist-tie through for a hanger. Cut two square holes on the front and the back side of the container about ½ inch from the bottom with sharp scissors. Directly under the squares make a small hole and insert sticks in the hole for a perch. Fill with birdseed, hang and enjoy. These feeders provide additional protection from the elements for the birds as well as keeping the bird seed dry.

Plastic Jug Bird Feeder

Cutting windows in recycled plastic bottles is an easy way to make a bird feeder.

Shelley Wigglesworth

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Traditional, tried-and-true pine cone bird feeders are an easy way to make a bird feeding station. Gather dropped pine cones and attach a piece of string or piece of floral wire at the top of the cone’s stem to make a hanger. Smear solid vegetable shortening or creamy peanut butter onto all sides of the pine cone. Roll in bird seed and hang.

String Bird Feeders

Cut a length of string approximately one foot and tie a knot at on end. Thread a large needle through the top end and tie with a small knot to secure. String slices of fresh fruit such as oranges, apples, pears and cranberries along with pieces of stale bread and/or popcorn and hang.

Suet Bird Feeders

Purchase suet in the meat section of your grocery store. It is very inexpensive, and a good sized piece can usually be purchased for a few dollars or less. Place the suet in a recycled mesh bag such as the type used for packed onions. Tie the bag in a tree or on the porch in plain view. The birds will benefit from the calories in the fat during the winter. Some species of woodpeckers are known to seek out suet feeders as well.

Have any tips for how to make bird feeders? Let us know in the comments!

SEE MORE: Amaryllis, Sprouts, Bird Feeders and More | 5 Indoor Winter Gardening Projects

This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated. 

  • I have used the onion bags for many years. I put them inside the wire suet cage. This helps manage the over zealous feeding of red bellied woodpeckers. Thankfully have never had a problem with anything getting caught…..

    • I did that years ago, and a poor little bird got its foot caught in the onion bag, and it died there before I was able to discover it. Never again. :-(

  • I simply screwed a small piece of plywood(18″ x 18″) to the porch railing. Every morning I put out sunflower seed and one fourth of a commercial suet cake and the fun begins. Many non migratory species but my favorite, and the most timid, is the pileated woodpecker pair which visits every few days. Chipmunks clean up the seeds that drop to the floor. It’s pleasure for me and survival for the birds!

  • I love birds so much. When I lived in Ohio I use to feed finches, they loved eating in my deck, however, they made a big mess too. Just be ready to clean up!

  • Yes Doug,I actually had a Downy Woodpecker die on a suet holder which I had made from an onion bag.It had it’s beak caught in the netting and I discovered it in the morning hanging off of the bag.I felt awful!Right after that I got the metal cages and never used one of those netting bags again!

  • The onion bag for suet is a BAD use for suet. The birds get caught in the netting.Specifically their feet.I have witnessed this happen to Downy Woodpeckers,Chickadees. Please stick to the suet cages sold in stores or make one out of 1/2″ square rabbit wire that can be shaped to hold suet.


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