5 Homemade Bird Feeders to Help Feathered Friends Through Winter

Annie B. Bond by Annie B. Bond | December 13th, 2008 | 21 Comments
topic: Green Living

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

– Maya Angelou

As I write, the branches of trees are coating up with ice and I hear them cracking and falling in the woods. I know the ice will twinkle in the sun and will be lovely when the storm passes, but for now there is danger, especially for the birds. I made sure to trek out to keep the homemade bird feeders full this morning, despite the treacherous walking conditions. They seemed to chirp in gratitude as I made the rounds of my four feeding stations. I just hope we don’t have too many branches break, threatening their nests.

I like to help the birds in the winter as garden feeding helps many birds survive the winter. You might want to make a family project of feeding the birds in the winter, too. I know that for my family, feeding and watching the birds has given no end of pleasure and cause for discussion.

Here are some easy homemade bird feeders that are fun for the whole family to create. Just be aware that once you start feeding the birds they depend on you, so don’t stop feeding them until the spring.

Pine Cone Feeder

Coat with peanut butter and cornmeal; add raisins, cranberries, whatever you have around. Roll in mixed birdseed (optional). Hang or place in the yard.

Old Christmas Tree Feeder

Placing the Christmas tree in the yard at the end of the holiday season makes a great birdfeeder. Hang it with cranberries and pine cone feeders (above), spread peanut butter on branches, and because birds in winter need fat especially, hang suet from on it.

Bagel Feeder

Coat a bagel with peanut butter, roll it in mixed birdseed and/or cornmeal, and hang it on a tree branch. Replace when gone.

Plastic Soda Bottle Feeder

Homemade Birdfeeder Soda BottleYou can buy ready-made versions of the soda bottle bird feeder, or you can make one yourself:

Make a hole on each side of the bottle about ¼ of the way up from the bottom of the bottle. Insert a stick through both holes to make perches; use one that’s long enough to stick out a few inches from each side of the bottle. The holes should be just larger than the size of the stick so the birds can get the seeds; or make separate feeding holes slightly above the perches. Fill with birdseed (use a funnel).

You may want to poke small holes in the bottom of the bottle to let moisture drain out. Tie a wire or small rope around the top of the bottle for hanging. You can also make this project upside-down, with the cap pointing down; thread wire through two small holes in the bottom of the bottle, then twist the two ends together to make a hanging loop.

Cheerios Birdfeeder

String Cheerios (or other round cereal with a hole) on a string. Coat with peanut butter. Hang on bushes!

Great bird feed in winter also includes black-oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, mixed seed, cracked corn and fruit. Remember, birds need protein, fat and carbohydrates in the winter.


  1. Nothing relaxes and refreshes more than a cup of hot coffee and some bird watching!! I got it from my mom, who was patient enough to sit with a hand of seed till a brave soul perched and ate. Now, my feeder is on my deck where my daughters have had tufted titmice try to land on them. I love the bagel rolled in peanut butter and seed idea…will make some this weekend with my grandson.

    Cheryl | December 17th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. I don’t know alot about birds but I don’t like to see anything animal go hungry. This morning I popped popcorn and poured mossales over it and the birds really seem to like it. Is that okay?

    amy | December 21st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. I was doing a search on bird feeders when I came upon your site. I love those featery covered creatures. They are delightful to watch as they fly in to enjoy a meal for the day. I couldn’t imagine not being able to hear them sing their songs of JOY! I’m going to try the Christmas Tree bird feeder this year. I know it will be lovely! Thanks a bundle!

    Carol Elkins | June 3rd, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  4. I need a substitute for peanut butter on the homemade bird feeders.

    Paula | September 21st, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  5. Paula,

    I assume you’re allergic to peanuts? Instead of peanut butter, try warming up some suet a little until it gets good and mushy (but not to the point that it melts), and squish it wherever you would otherwise use peanut butter. You can mix in seeds as desired while it’s mushy.

    Michael | September 23rd, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  6. Thanks for the ideas for birdfeeders…..I am planning to put a Christmas tree out on my deck and was looking for more ideas for the “ornaments”. I was already doing the pinecone and peanut butter, but wanted a variety….so will also do the bagel and peanut butter and birdseed as well as string popcorn, cheerios and dried cranberrys! Can’t wait to see my little furry friends enjoy their Christmas!

    Marcia | November 7th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  7. AS 2 the feed until sping.Sping is when birds have less food 2 feed on so feed in spring thats when they need it most >JB<

    James | December 25th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  8. My Mom came to live with me and got me interested in Birds to help her pass the time (She is 89). We have several feeders for different birds and have a pair of Dove that come to visit – Robins that love the tilled soil and enjoy natural food source – worms. We also have a seperate area on the deck for hummingbirds. Scarlett Running Bean Vine in a self container with several feeders for them. First year on this one so really excited.

    How do you stop the sparrows from overtaking a space for Song Birds ?

    Violet/Fern | June 7th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  9. Use sun-butter instead. I am allergic to peanuts, so i use sunbutter. its just like peanut butter, but its made with sunflower seeds, which we all know the birds love!

    LeAnne | December 14th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  10. Another alternative to peanut butter is your old grease. If you collect leftover fat and grease from cooking meats then you can melt it down and mix it with birdseed, pour into a container of any size that you are hoping to hang, cage, or sit out, and freeze. It will maintain a thickness after the grease has cooled and you can put it out. Your birds will love you!!!

    Cizzi | December 14th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  11. is anyone remebering that birds are from nature & have been surviving for thousands of years?
    PLEASE REMEMBER human food is for humans, natures creatures are not made to eat the processed additive laden foods we toxify our bodies with.. you could be doing the bird species’ a dis-service, by truly changing their dna, or at the very least making them feel ill & therefore who knows if they then die or cant pro-create..

    me | December 15th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  12. In looking at the picture above (thanks for this. I have a 5 y.o. home this week before christmas and trying to think of things we can do w/ buddies and had idea of making bird feeders, so am searching). Wondering if you can tell me what that is on the bottom (spout side) of the soda bottle one? I don’t see anything about it in the post or at least that I recognize that describes it. Is it something that you purchase? One thing I’ve noticed w/ a birdfeeder I got a couple years ago, is that if there are holes in the sides, how do you keep the birdseed from coming out? Thanks. I wasn’t a physics major and avoided such classes at any cost, so I may be missing some law of nature that would keep it from coming out. Thanks. :-)

    amy | December 20th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  13. Being the avid birders and bird feeders that we are, we are always looking for new ideas. And THESE are terrific! We saw another post recently that discussed coating pine cones in peanut butter and rolling them in seeds and some select fruits, such as apples. Fantastic.

    A mason jar works great too…creating a hole in the metal top and adding a nail or dowel under the hole as a perch. Wrap a strap around the jar, attach a hanger (coated wire, twine etc.) and then simply hang from the branch of tree. These are perfect for any seed mix.

    Thank you for these terrific ideas. We hope you like ours also.

    Chris R | February 19th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  14. you can also use toilet paper roles and peanut butter also birdfeed works well we have all kinds of birds in the morning!

    em | April 11th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  15. I love the Idea using the mason jar. But must watch out and not let water get in to the jar during the winter or it will freeze and bust. The one I have used in the past and love to set on my back deck and watch the birds pick away at a pine cone covered with peanut butter and then rolled in bird seed. Drives the bird crazy they love it. Keep up the good work loved the post.

    Anonymous | April 26th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  16. Does anyone know where I can get a metal tree to hang bird feeders on? Also how can you prevent stray cats from attacking the birds? I have a dead Mimosa tree that I hang bird feeders on.

    Suzie M | April 27th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  17. I like to switch off my feeders at least once a week to do a thorough cleaning, and so I have a lot of extra feeders. Making my own inexpensive ones suit perfectly this purpose. Thank you

    Michelle R | June 30th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  18. Hello thanks for learn

    Sajjad Shah | May 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  19. Are there any specific feeders that work best in evergreens?

    mary | May 24th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  20. Thanks for the ideas above. Will try the homemade bottle feeder.

    Samantha | January 28th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  21. Thanks for the great advice on feeders! I love nothing more than watching the birds at my home while I am eating breakfast. I got mine of my feeders from Kinsman Garden, http://www.kinsmangarden.com/category/Birds-Bees-Wildlife though, after failing with some homemade ones. They work (and look) great!

    Linda | February 25th, 2013 | Comment Permalink

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