Garden Craft: Recycled Bottle Birdfeeder

By Kate Riley February 1, 2011

My kids have been asking me to make them a birdfeeder all winter long.  I’ve been seeing an extraordinary amount of begging eyes and hearing a whole lot of “Momma, can we pweease feeeeed da biwds, like Mawy Poppins, day aw so hungawy, pweeease?”  I simply couldn’t take the pressure any more, those munchkins have a way of wearin’ me down. 

So yesterday we finished up a fun project together ~ we made a birdfeeder out of a recycled bottle and a few other supplies.  I say “we” but actually, I’m only choosing to remember it as “we” when it was more me doing all the work and them taking all the credit when Dad came home. 

cg recycled bottle birdfeeder


I had an empty plastic liter bottle and I noticed it fit perfectly inside two Ball jar lids, so that was the original *work with what ya got* concept.  A few supplies from the craft and hardware store, and we were in business.


How to Make a Birdfeeder out of a Recycled Liter Bottle

Supplies:  2 6” wood disks and 1 wood ball finial from a craft store; 2 standard Ball jar lids; 1 threaded crown bolt; 2 nuts; spray paint, eye hook. 

Tools:  Power screwdriver, sharp shears or scissors; hole punch; hacksaw

Step 1: Paint all your parts with outdoor spray paint (I used RustOleum’s Painter’s Touch in ‘Green Apple’).  Allow to fully dry. 



Step 2:  Drill holes through your disk and lid with a power screwdriver using the same size bit (or 1 size larger) than the width of your threaded bolt. 

drill holes with screwdriver


Repeat the same process for the ball finial.

ball finial top


Step 3:   Cut your plastic liter bottle evenly all the way around the circumference with sharp shears or scissors. 

cut bottle

Using a hole puncher, add a large enough opening for the seed you’ll be using. 

hole punch


Step 4:  Measure the length of the bolt you’ll need to secure your feeder together, then with a hacksaw, trim the threaded bolt to the measured length.

hacksaw and clamp


Piece your feeder together, then holding it upside down, fill it with birdseed.  Make sure your holes are at the bottom of your feeder to allow gravity to push the seed out.  Screw the nut to the bottom of your bolt and you’re done!

last step put together


So I did a little research and I learned that different types of birdseed attract different kinds of birds.  Well, duh.

My original formula was meant for larger birds like bluejays.

cg larger birdseed


But since I want to discourage starlings and attract smaller songbirds like finches, I switched out the seed this morning to add more millet, thistle seed, and shelled sunflowers. 

finch friendly mix


Those awful starlings are a vineyard menace, so I’m hoping this smaller shelled feed attracts some sweet little finches and tweety birds!  

cg smaller birdseed in feeder


We are having unusually sunny weather this month in Northern California, but the rain will be back soon.  I’d like to think the sun came out just for me to take a decent outdoor photo. 

cg recycled bottle birdfeeder

Not a bad look for a recycled bottle I say.

Any bird experts out there who can share their knowledge on attracting smaller birds to my garden? 




  1. That is awesome, Kate! I have no suggestions for smaller birds, as each time I’ve tried to do a bird feeder station, it’s overrun by squirrels. Those little buggers are SMART.

  2. This is SO cute! I love that it is a recycled project that doesn’t look like one:)

    What part of Northern California are you in? I live there too and have been LOVING the spring like weather we have been having as well. Really helps when you can send the kids outside.

  3. I use bird feeders with smaller, controlled holes so the bigger birds can’t use them. Of course, some seed winds up on the ground, but not too much.

    One of my favorite feeders was the “dinner bell.” It’s pretty modern looking and it’s clear. You can lower the bell so only the little guys can get into it. I like mourning doves, though, so I don’t lower the bell.

    Here’s a picture of the feeder:

  4. Oh my gosh. I love the feeder it’s a great idea, but even more than that I cannot get over your weather and the fact that you have LEAVES on your trees. I’m dying of -14 degree jealousy over here!! :) We can only use the long tube feeders to keep the squirrels at bay…but they work because they have smaller holes so bigger things (birds, squirrels) can’t get into them. Maybe try those?

  5. A feeder with small perches will usually discourage larger birds because they are too big to use it. However, if you let the seeds fall to the ground, they will most likely come around to get their share. As for seed type, I have tried different mixes and seeds, and found that the favorite one amoung small birds is black sunflower. This is on the east coast, though, and you may have different birds over there in California.

  6. What a great bird feeder. I am going to have to file this idea away for a few months. Today we got hit with storm #8 of the winter. I am so over the winter. I am hosting my first party tonight on my blog. The link opens up at 8pm EST. I really hope you will stop by and participate. Thanks.

  7. It’s so pretty, Kate! You guys (okay, you) did a great job! Love that pretty Spring green. We do everything we can to keep nasty old bluejays out of our yard, but I love smaller birds like finches, sparrows, cardinals, etc. I can’t offer any suggestions to attract the small birds, other than making sure the nasty ones stay away.

  8. We have black sunflower seeds in our window feeder. Lots of little birds come to that feeder. We have another feeder with general bird seed. The holes are so small that only little birds can get to it. We did see a Blue Jay try and he just left. My 7yr old daughter is a bird LOVER and wants the big birds too. So we need to get a large bird feeder. We may try and make this and just do large holes.

  9. Love this! I think that there is a serious lacking of quality resourcefulness. Glad to see your quality work!

  10. That birdfeeder is ADORABLE! So so clever! Love the color. Wonder if you will have any squirrel visitations? My mom has an entire housing development of birdfeeders in her backyard, and she gets a lot of squirrels, which she does not like, but I say the squirrels gotta eat, too!



  11. Hey Anna! That’s one of the FEW in our yard with leaves! Most everything else is barren and branchy . . . but so excited that spring is around the corner!

  12. We feed black oil sunflower seeds exclusively and get lots of little songbirds. We use wire mesh feeders with no perches. Chickadees, nuthatches, finches etc. can cling to the sides but starlings, jays and squirrels can’t (well, USUALLY can’t). Be sure you have a source of water, like a birdbath or water feature and have cover for the little guys to hide from kitties and predatory birds. I just love your feeder!

  13. To attract finches use only thistle. They make special finch feeders with tiny little openings; I don’t know if this is to deter other larger birds or if it’s because finches prefer it. Only finches ever ate from our finch feeder.

    Your feeder would never work here in Virginia, the squirrels would be all over that within minutes! I attached a feeder to a glass window via a suction cup once and the squirrels still managed to scale the screen and jump over a foot to the feeder. Took them weeks to do but they finally did it, and once they did there was no stopping them.

  14. What a great idea! The green paint is such a nice touch :)

    I use Scott’s Songbird blend mix with sunflower seeds but like Sylvie, I am on the east coast so we may have different birds.

  15. That is such a cute idea. I’ve been thinking (and blogging) about spring gardens all week. What a great way to get the kids involved! Thank you for sharing this!

  16. I know I might regret this question because it seems obvious to everyone else….but how do the birds get to the food???? I see the hole punched at the top, but then you would have to keep the bird seed filled….are the holes punched around the bottom also?

    Kate I love this! Adorable hanging in the tree even if the birds can’t get to the food!!!! :-)

    • She used a hole puncher (see picture) to put little holes around bottom of bottle for seed to come out. see the hole puncher pic

  17. Hey Mandy, the holes are actually at the bottom and gravity + beaks help to empty the goodies containted within.

  18. Hey Sandy, I cleaned out my birdbath today and filled it with fresh water cause I read that the smaller birds look for both fresh water and hiding spots from predators, so that’s why I hung it in a small tree near our kitchen.
    Thanks so much!

  19. Dang, I don’t normally get into craft stuff, that’s more my wife’s thing, but this is one good looking bird feeder. I’m more of a fix up the house kinda guy, of course, I’m a handyman and do old home remodeling, so I like the shabby chic stuff that I can make for my customers as a thank you. My wife Renee’ is gonna love this too, can’t wait to forward it to her…hoping she make us one!

  20. Girl, you come through for me every time. We just bought a house that overlooks a wildlife preserve. When we were there for the inspection I could hear many birds and decided I wanted a bird feeder. But, of course, there are other budget priorities right now. This is so affordable and adorable. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  21. Love this bird house, very creative! I have three bird feeders right outside my window and I love them…I want to get some bird houses to see if any of them will nest there in the spring. I also have decided that I need a bird book…to tell me what they are. Right now the nuthatches are my favorite, but it’s a tough race :)

  22. Jealous that you are even mentioning the word “garden” in your post…here in New England we are covered in several feet of snow and there’s only more to come…I miss my garden so much and cannot wait for spring already! Great job with the the idea! :)

  23. Very ingenious…but what I am really wondering and impressed by is that fact you are outside, and there are birds to feed…and I see green. Odd, you don’t live that far down the coast from me! Enjoy!

  24. How clever! I love this bird feeder. I need one of these right outside my kitchen window. We have a hummingbird feeder and gets lots of little hummingbirds. I would love to attract other birds as well. I noticed today some of my spring flowers were popping through. A bird feeder in the spring would be perfect! I actually did not know that different types of food attracted different birds. I knew about hummingbirds but that’s it. Love the green apple color!

  25. It is very cute. However, birds don’t like spray painted stuff. I tried it myself one time. I was told they would probably not like the odor, but I decided to try it anyway. Sure enough, no takers. I had to go buy one instead. Hopefully, yours will work out.

  26. Kate, you are amazing! I think Holly is right that birds don’t like spray painted stuff – but it should be ok after it’s been outside for a few days. Can’t wait to see what little birdies you find out there!

  27. The other thing I should have mentioned is it might take a couple of weeks for song birds to come to a new feeder, espcially if you haven’t had a feeder in that spot before. They will watch to see if it’s safe. They should come though because you seem to have all your bases covered. Someone mentioned that finches prefer thistle which is true; however, they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds. Several years ago we decided to give up thistle because it’s so messy and expensive, thinking it might discourage finches and pine siskin but they quickly adapted to the sunflower seeds. You might try putting out suet too to attract small woodpeckers, bushtit, nuthatches and the like. You can make you own suet and, with your talent, you could make a great suet feeder. Have fun and thanks for thinking of your feathered friends!

  28. Look’s amazing, Kate!

    I am so jealous of your mild and sunny weather! We just got dumped on and the winters are very gray here.

    Most of the seeds in seed mixtures are filler that many species don’t enjoy eating. For example, most birds bypass millet, though doves will feed on the discarded millet that makes it down to the ground. In addition, birds aren’t big fans of the striped sunflower seeds in those mixtures or on their own.

    We use five different types of food to attract different birds to different feeders. We use black oil sunflower seeds to attract chickadees, nuthatches, jays, cardinals, and various species of finches. We use niger seed to attract finches, especially goldfinches. We use safflower seeds to attract titmice, although some of the finches will eat these as well. Squirrels and blackbirds don’t like safflower seeds, so it is a very selective food source. We use suet to attract woodpeckers and chickadees. Finally, we use sugar water to attract hummingbirds and orioles. We never get starlings at our feeders.

  29. Oh, Kate! Now I’ll be singing “Tuppence. . . tuppence. . . tuppence a bag” all day long. That’s okay; I always wanted to be Julie Andrews.

    This is wonderful. A project with your children that turned out to be so cheerful AND pretty? And it’s good for the birds? A win-win-win, I’d say. Way to go, Mom. :)

  30. Such a cute birdfeeder! Just a word of advice about mice, though… we got a bunch of them in our attic last year. We had our feeders in trees just outside our windows (I just love watching them!), and the seeds that dropped to the ground attracted the mice, who were then attracted to our home. A bit of research suggests keeping the birdseed *outside* away from the house in airtight containers (bungee corded shut so as to not invite themore wiley raccoons), filling the feeders away from the house, and keeping the area under the feeders clean. Basically, keep the birdseed out of your home or garage.
    We’ve yet to refill our feeders b/c it freaked me out to hear the mice nawing in the walls last year… but I do miss the birdwatching!

  31. i just recently found your site and really enjoy it. your feeder looks great and is a neat way to recycle. it does take a while sometimes for birds to find a new feeder, so be patient. also, most of the nuisance birds really love corn so i always buy mixes without it.

  32. Good god woman, you’re amazing! I think if I were ever trapped on an island with one other person, I would hope the other person would either be you or McGiver….

    Very cute birdfeeder.

  33. What a fabulous idea! I’m featuring it on my “Top 10 Awesome Recycled Craft Projects” today at, be sure to grab a button if you want. Also I would love for you to share this (and any other creations) at my “Pin It and Win It Wednesday” starting this evening!

  34. Nice idea. You could probably even upcycle old CDs/DVDs for the discs as they are about 5″. Getting paint to adhere to the slick surface would probably require a little buffing with very fine sandpaper or steel wool, or perhaps some other material might be experimented with for a more tread-friendly surface. Maybe even some kind of sand/gravel paint…

  35. I want to add that whatever materials (paint, glue etc) should be as eco-friendly as possible and allowed to cure awhile before using.

  36. ~ I plan on making lamps by cutting the bottom of the wine bottles ! Can’t wait to get started ! Thank you for your tips on cutting the glass ! ~ Gail <3

  37. Can you please tell me how you attatched the finial to the top of the feeder? did you glue it? We would like to try and make this with our Girl Scout troop.. looks like fun.

  38. I would like to make one of these even for Starlings because they need to eat too.

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