Feeders are an easy way to keep your local finches plump, and they’re also useful for tracking winter populations. Cornell University even runs a national FeederWatch program where you can log your bird sightings from November to April.
The design is simple, but commercial bird feeders aren’t cheap: they can run from $20 to, I kid you not, $557.97. Alternatively, you can make one yourself for $0. I ran into these yesterday while snowshoeing at Tahoe Meadows; some kind local had left them out for the chickadees.
Yep, that’s what it looks like: a Gatorade bottle filled with sunflower seeds, with a twig stuck in the bottom for a perch. Totally low-tech, and totally surrounded with birds (not shown, they flew away).
Want to make one? Here’s how:
- Cut a couple of green twigs (green will hold up better without breaking), about 5 to 8 inches long.
- Cut an X in the bottle, slightly smaller than the width of the twig base, and push the twig in far enough that it won’t fall out. Do the same on the other side.
- Cut a small hole, about 3/4″ in diameter, an inch or two above the twig. If you want to feed bigger birds, make a bigger hole.
- Remove the lid and poke two small holes in the mouth of the bottle. Thread a string or wire through the holes to make a hangy thing.
- Pour in some birdseed.
- Hang it on something!
Photo: tufted titmouse by Dawn Huczek