How to Build a Bird Feeder from Recycled Materials

Many people overlook the importance of feeding birds in winter. Winter can prove to be harsh for birds which increases their vulnerability and reduces their survival. Sufficient food is vital for them to make it to the next spring, literally.

There are many ways to attract wild birds to your yard so that you can ensure they stay strong and healthy. Plus, by doing so you get to watch them and hear them sing.

So, what is one way to attract them and make sure they get something to eat? Build a bird feeder. Below are four quick, simple ways to build a bird feeder from recycled materials that you probably have laying around the house. (Yes, I wouldn’t do it any other way.)


Soda bottle and spoon bird feeder

You will need:

Washed soda bottle

1 or 2 wooden spoons


Craft knife


Measure 4 inches from the base of the bottle and mark it with a small cross. Turn the bottle around 90 degrees, measure 2 inches from the base and make another cross, about one inch across. Use the craft knife to cut the first cross and then make it a small circle, to fit the handle of the wooden spoon. Repeat with the other cross, making the size of the circle one inch in diameter. If you have used a large soda bottle, repeat this process on the other side of the bottle. Remove the bottle cap and screw in a screw-eye or tie a piece of wire around the neck of the bottle to act as a hanger, and replace the cap.

Push the wooden spoons through the larger hole right through the smaller hole. Fill the bottle with fine bird seed mix. You will see that the seed comes out the larger hole onto the bowl of the spoon, allowing small birds to feed. Hang your feeder on a branch away from fences.

Milk carton bird feeder

You will need:

Washed milk carton

Craft knife

Piece of dowel or small twig

Non-toxic paint for decorating, if desired


Glue the opening flap on the top closed, holding in place with pegs until dry. Make a template for the size and shape you want the feeding windows to be and transfer to the sides of the carton. Cut large window openings in all four sides, just leaving inch wide pillars on the corners for strength, or you can leave one or more sides solid to keep out rain. Use the craft knife to cut windows in the sides of the carton, leaving a 2 to 3 inch-wide strip at the base to hold the seed. If you want to be creative, now is the time to paint your bird feeder. Poke holes through two opposite sides at the base of the windows and push the dowel or twig though from one side to the other to form a perch. Make a small hole through the top flap for the twine and hang your new feeder on a branch at head height, near a window so you can enjoy the visitors. Fill the base with bird seed, shelled nuts or bread crumbs.

Milk or juice jug bird feeder

You will need:

Washed gallon plastic jug

Marking pen

Craft knife

Wire or twine 


Use the marking pen to draw a large window in one or two sides of the jug, leaving a wide piece at the base to hold the seed. Attach the wire or twine to the neck of the bottle and replace the cap. Make sure it hangs straight. Fill with mixed seed and hang from the nearest tree.

Mesh bag suet holder

The mesh bags that you buy onions or fruit in, make great bird feeders that are so simple to make.

First make the suet balls. Melt suet, lard or vegetable cooking shortening with a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter. Add a mixture of oatmeal, mixed bird seed, corn meal and a little flour, in any combination, and mix. Pour into disposable cups to set. These are great winter food for hungry birds as they need the fat to keep warm as well as the seeds and grains for nutrition.

Simply drop one or two suet balls into a mesh bag, seal the opening and hang from a branch not too close to the ground.

Remember to replace the seed frequently and keep you bird feeder clean and dry. When it gets a bit tatty, simply make another.


As, you can see, there are many different ways you can build a bird feeder that re-uses materials. You can do this with the kids as a weekend craft, or as a fundraiser for a local charity. Who doesn’t like birds right?! And why not do your part to help feed them when it is cold and food is sparse.

So, do have any junk laying around you can put to use and feed the birds with? I am sure you do. 


How to Build a Bird Feeder from Recycled Materials — 21 Comments

  1. Love the recycling ideas, Miss T. We have some feeders we’ve picked up used at yard sales, but as you can imagine, with a productive garden we get plenty of feathered visitors looking for insects. We also have a few pine cones hanging from trees that we slather with peanut butter, and then coat with bird seed.

  2. Some great ideas. I’d never of thought of using old onion bags for making suet balls. Suet is pretty necessary when feeding birds in our cold Canadian winters, it’s a great energy source for them.


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