Making your own DIY birdseed feeders is one of the very best ways to cater to wild birds visiting and living in your backyard.
Taking matters into your own hands can save you money, allow you to provide exactly what the wild birds in your garden need, and allow you to do so in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way.
Some excellent DIY birdseed feeders that you can make include:
- Fat Balls made from suet or lard
- Vegan/ vegetarian alternatives for fat balls
- Coconut shell bird feeders
- Pine cone bird feeders
- Bird seed cookies
- Bird-feeding buffet swags & wreaths
- Reused and upcycled zero-waste birdseed feeders
Read on to get some ideas for your own DIY birdseed feeders and for more information on each of the ideas listed above.
How to Make Holiday Suet Balls
Start with suet
(You can find a recipe for suet on our suet bird food recipes page.)
- Roll the suet into balls approximately 3” in diameter.
- Insert a strong hook deeply and firmly, into one end of a suet ball (Christmas tree decoration hooks work well).
Now for the yummy stuff!
- Roll the suet balls in any kind of wild bird seed you wish: black oil sunflower seed, chopped peanuts, white millet, thistle seed, or a wild bird seed mix.
- You can make up your own wild bird feed mix too by combining the above birdseed ingredients to roll the suet balls in. Or, you can roll each suet ball in one seed type only to give your suet balls a varied look.
- Tie a ribbon around the hook and your backyard birds can enjoy a festive bird seed feeder treat.
Note: It may take more wild bird seed than you expect to make some of these treats.
Many wild bird stores provide wild bird seed bulk bins that make purchasing bird seeds more affordable. Sometimes, purchasing your birdfeed in pre-packaged quantities can be more costly.
More Holiday Treat Ideas Here
How to Make Vegan/ Vegetarian Fat Ball Alternatives
Peanut and other nut butters can also be used as a binding ingredient for birdseed and other ingredients, and a source of fat and protein in balls to use in place of suet or lard fat balls in your backyard.
For example, I like to make fat balls for birds in winter using:
- 1-2 cups seeds and grains (sunflower seeds, millet, pinhead oatmeal, etc…)
- ½ cup rolled oats (porridge oats)
- ¼ cup natural home-dried fruits
- ½ cup natural crunchy nut butter (and a little more, as needed, to bind the other ingredients)
I can then roll the mixture into balls to place in a suet cage or other feeder, and use them just as you would use animal-derived fat balls.
You can also press the mix into a range of other receptacles. As you will find out below, there are plenty of items that you might reuse or repurpose to make bird feeders in your garden.
Another idea for vegans and vegetarians is to use coconut oil. Coconut oil melts more easily than animal fats, but in the winter, it is a viable substitute.
To make a good mix to form into balls or press into containers, you should mix around 1/3 fat/ coconut oil with 2/3 dry ingredients – typically seeds like sunflower seeds, nyger seeds, oats, millet, maize, etc… and perhaps nuts and dried fruits.
How to Make a Coconut Shell Bird Feeder
Coconut flesh can be a healthy addition to a bird’s diet. It’s high in saturated fats, so it can be useful in providing an energy boost and helping birds build fat reserves in winter.
The best way to feed fresh coconut flesh is within a half shell or a section of the shell. Keeping the flesh stuck to the shell can reduce the chance of the flesh going off and mold develop before it can be eaten.
However, even if you aren’t actually feeding the coconut itself to the birds, the shell can be retained (perhaps after you have eaten the flesh).
This shell can be used as a container for a mixture of fat and bird seeds, and have holes drilled into it to hang this clever bird feeder in a suitable spot in your garden.
How to Make Pine Cone Treats
You can also create hanging bird feeders using pine cones as a base, around which to slather your food for the birds.
Steps to make the treats:
- Collect pine cones (kids and grandkids love this project) or you can purchase pine cones at some craft stores.
- Tie a string or a ribbon (8-10” long) around the pointed end of the pine cone under the first row of (petals) to hold the string or ribbon.
- Spread either peanut butter or softened suet over the cone.
- Roll the cone in the seed.
- Hang the cone from the bottom of feeders, tree branches, clotheslines, or any other location where they can be seen.
It is a pleasure to watch as the wild birds flock to them to enjoy their bounty!
Bird Seed Cookies
Another neat way to make handy delivery packages for the bird seed that you want to provide for birds in your garden is to do some baking.
Bird seed cookies are very easy to make – there are plenty of recipes out there to choose from – and they can be made with holes in them to be hung up as ready-made DIY bird feeders for the birds in your backyard.
You can bake actual bird-friendly cookies (not the heavily sugared confections we enjoy, but something much more wholesome) using seeds, wholemeal flour, fats, and water.
Or you can go for a raw, no-bake recipe, using just bird seeds (whatever mix you want to attract and aid specific bird species) plus a pack of gelatin (or vegetarian jelly alternative).
Pour this mix into cookie cutters, and it will set and give you cute little bird feeders that you can place out in your garden.
How to Make Buffet Swags and Wreaths for Wild Birds
Another idea involves not just making one hanging feeder, but creating a string of items birds like to eat, a swag, or a wreath with goodies for wild birds.
Beautiful swags and wreaths that aren’t only decorative but tasty treats for our feathered friends make delicious birdseed feeders:
- Can be made by tying together small bunches of dried grasses, sunflower heads, Indian corn, and branches from berry bushes.
- For making a swag, arrange your selection together in a bunch and tie it together with florist wire. Tie the ribbon around the middle to decorate and it will also serve to attract the birds.
- To make a wreath the easy way is to purchase a grapevine or straw form. Styrofoam molds aren’t recommended, as they will break apart and aren’t environmentally safe. It would also pose a toxic risk to the health of your wild birds.
- Insert the grasses and berry branches alternately into the wreath. Tie on the sunflower heads and corn with florist wire and decorate with ribbon. Voila!
- Your homemade suet balls and pine cone treats will also make a tasty addition to your swags and wreaths.
All of these tasty and beautiful birdseed feeders are excellent backyard birding treats that make great gifts for the bird watchers on your gift-giving list at any time of the year!