Natural Looking Bird Feeders

Q: I would like to put up a number of bird feeders this winter (got a fantastic deal on bird feed) and would like some ideas of building and making good feeders that are cheap and as "natural" looking as possible. Can you help?

Brenda from Beaverdam, Virginia

A: Brenda,

Different species of birds have different ways of feeding, just like they have different food preferences. To attract the widest variety of birds, you'll want hanging or platform feeders, a ground feeder and a feeder filled with suet.

I'm an advocate of using recycled items for bird feeders (like plastic milk jugs, pie tins and scrap lumber). An easy and inexpensive way to make the non-natural look natural is to use silicone glue to add bits of moss, lichen, bark, stones, twigs, etc., to the outside of the feeder.

Suet Feeders:

Drill 1" to 1 1/2" wide holes into a 6" to 8" long log that is 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Drill the holes completely through. If you want to add perches, drill smaller holes below the large holes to insert dowels. Secure the dowel perches with wood glue. Attach an eye hook to one end of the long for hanging and fill the large holes with suet.


For another easy suet feeder, fill a small onion sack or fruit sack with suit and hang.

Hanging Feeders:

Take a coffee can (with a lid) and using a bottle opener, punch three to four holes near the bottom of the can. Place the can on top of a saucer (like the type put under plant pots) and center both the can and saucer on top of a small block of wood. You're going to attach the saucer to the can by drilling a small hole through the center of the bottom of the can, and through the center of the saucer and screwing them into the block of wood. You can punch holes near the top of the can and attach a coat hanger to hang it from, or secure the can to a post. The lid will make it easy to fill and keep the birdseed from getting wet.

With scraps of wood and a small piece of window screen, you can make a simple ground feeder. Nail together a rectangle frame and staple screen across the frame for the bottom. Attach a 1-2 inch leg on each corner of the frame. This will keep the feeder slightly off the ground to let water drain out. This is really all you need for a ground feeder. To convert this to a hanging feeder, skip the legs and attach an eye hook to each corner so you can secure ropes or small chains for hanging. If you want to make a roof, drill holes in each corner and insert dowel rods (use wood glue). For a flat roof, simply attach a piece of plywood with nails to each dowel. For a pitched roof, attach two pieces of wood together with L-brackets. Drill shallow holes in the roof at the four corners to attach the roof to the dowels.


Other natural looking feeders that work well are hollow gourds and citrus halves, and pine cones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed.

By Ellen Brown

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

November 6, 20050 found this helpful

personally I think the pine cone ones with peanut butter and seeds on the outside look quit natural. You could make a feeder out of a milk carten and spray paint it an earthy tone. Gourds also make realy nice bird house but you could probally make a feeder as well. a plastic flower pot saucers are cheap, come in good color tones and you could make it into a bird feeder. Just drill some holes in the rim then hang it from a tree with twine and fill the saucer with the bird seed. You can use spray painted sour cream containers the sam way.


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November 20, 20050 found this helpful

This is a warning against using onion or vegetable mesh bags to hold suet for feeding the wild birds. For many years, I used these bags without having any problems. One time a woodpecker had its' leg tangled in the mesh. It was screaming and yanking. It was terrible. I did manage to cut the mesh without injuring the poor fellow. The stress that we both went through was traumatic. I was happy that I was home, I couldn't image it being caught like that in the freezing cold and probably dying a terrible death. After that I used the suet cages or just sometimes hang a large piece on a post. So please do not use those mesh vegetable bags, it only takes one time.

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December 8, 20050 found this helpful

has patterns for making gazebo style bird feeders like the one in the picture.

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February 17, 20060 found this helpful

I have made a log suet feeder out of well, a log :D

Any size log will likely work, but the one I used was small tree that someone else cut down (I don't condone killing trees).

Simply bore out several holes within the log and then a smaller hole below the larger one to put pegs in. (A rough bark log will likely not need perches though).

Fill in the large holes with Suet and hang from a pole or nearby tree...

Some wide angle shots of my suet feeder

A close up of the holes...

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In This Article
Homemade Bird Feeders
Homemade Bird Feeders
Home and Garden Gardening Birds & Bird HousesNovember 17, 2005
Cleaning Birdfeeders
Bird Eating from Bird Feeder
Keeping The Ground Under a Bird Feeder Clean
Squirrel Feeder
Making a Squirrel Feeder
A pinecone covered in birdseed to be hung as a birdfeeder.
Making Pinecone Bird Feeders
Halloween Ideas!
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