Our Simple Bird Feeder Plan (+ Ice Bowl Feeder Guide)

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Keen birdwatchers will always be looking for new, fun ways to create and fill feeders, so they can see wild birds in their gardens up close.

Below, we’ll share one fun feeder idea that you can try when feeding backyard birds over the winter months: an ice bowl winter bird feeder.

There are plenty of great bird feeder projects that are fun and won’t cost much, if anything, to do. This ice bowl winter feeder is certainly one to try. Children will love taking on this little project and watching the birds that come to enjoy your creation!

Why Make an Ice Bowl Winter Feeder?

When feeding birds in the winter months in a colder climate garden, there are plenty of feeders that you can make using natural or reclaimed materials.

For example, you can use a pine cone, a coconut shell, or a pumpkin as a substrate or container for the food you have chosen for your feathered friends.

You can also use things that would otherwise be thrown away – including old plastic bottles, or chipped teacups and saucers, for example.

You can create many hanging containers for bird feeders, hopper-type bird feeders, and plenty of other DIY feeders to feed lots of birds where you live.

Like the natural and reclaimed options mentioned above, ice bowl feeders can be an eco-friendly and sustainable choice.

Making a feeder from ice means it will be completely biodegradable – melting to leave nothing behind. And like other DIY bird feeder projects, it allows you to feed the birds without buying anything new.

Won’t an Ice Bowl Feeder Be Too Cold For Birds?

One question that you might have is whether an ice bowl bird feeder will actually be good for birds. Won’t it be too cold for our feathered friends to perch on and eat from?

The good news is that birds are remarkable creatures. They have a netlike pattern of arteries that weaves blood coming from their hearts with the veins carrying cold blood from their feet and legs.

This adaptation means that blood going to the feet is cooled, so birds don’t lose too much heat. The slight amount that does go to their feet is just sufficient to keep them from freezing.

Therefore, birds won’t have any trouble landing on and using a feeder of this type.

The key thing, of course, is to make sure birds receive more calories – especially fat and protein – than they use in retrieving the food that you offer.

How to Make an Ice Bowl Feeder

What Materials Will You Need?

  1. A larger bowl that will freeze well when filled with water (and other things of course). I used a Pyrex mixing bowl, but plastic or a metal bowl will work too. It’s nice if the bowl is see-through to allow you to build a design that you can see up the sides while creating it.
  2. A smaller bowl or container that fits inside the larger bowl will form the space for the seed to sit in. I used a plastic yogurt container, so I also needed to place something inside to weigh it down.
  3. A variety of fruit. I used frozen fruit, but dried fruit will also work, plus any natural bits of greenery, twigs, small cones, etc.
  4. Water (cold).

Instructions:

  1. Starting with the large bowl, fill it with 1/2 inch/1.25cm of cold water and place it in the freezer.
  2. Place the smaller bowl or container inside the large bowl on top of the frozen water at the bottom of the large bowl. I used a plastic yogurt container with the sides cut down, so it wasn’t so tall, and weighted it down with some craft stones I had.
  3. Fill the space between the 2 bowls with the first layer of fruit or whatever you have chosen. I started mine with a layer of frozen blueberries about halfway up the side of the large bowl.
  4. Pour cold water over the first layer until covered, then freeze. An hour or two in the freezer is enough per layer, depending on your freezer. I used my deep freezer as it freezes faster and harder than my fridge freezer.
  5. On top of the first frozen layer, add your third layer. I chose frozen strawberries and peach slices, arranged in alternating order around the inside of the bowl, on top of the first layer of blueberries.
  6. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to almost cover the second layer of fruit. It’s okay if some of the fruit is sticking above the water, as enough water has been added to safely secure it in place. Next, place the bowl in the freezer. The top of the ice bowl feeder can be decorated with some greenery or more fruit. Add a bit more water, enough to hold the decorating pieces in place, and freeze one last time. (I didn’t follow this step, but here is a picture of an ice bowl submitted in our first photo contest that has been decorated differently than mine.)
  7. The ice bowl feeder is now ready for the finishing touches. Begin by filling the small bowl with warm water, then get hotter if it’s a glass or ceramic bowl you have used, to warm it up slowly. If it’s plastic or metal, start with fairly hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes and try sliding it sideways to loosen it. Next, remove it when it’s loosened up. Don’t leave warm or hot water for too long, as the inside of your feeder will begin to melt.
  8. Dip the large bowl in a sink partly filled with warm water to loosen the ice bowl feeder from the large bowl used to make it. If it doesn’t slide out right away when tipped, then leave it in the water a little longer until it does.
  9. Place the feeder in a metal or glass pie plate to easily transport it to its final destination.
  10. Carry your feeder to its final resting place where your birds can enjoy it and fill the bowl with food for the bird species you wish to attract.

How to Fill your Ice Bowl Feeder

Once you have made your ice bowl feeder, it’s time to turn your attention to what you should put inside it for the birds to eat.

There are a wide variety of ingredients to choose from that will be great additions to the diet of wild birds in winter.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea to use peanut butter (or another nut butter), which should be natural, 100% nuts. Peanut butter is a great source of fats and protein that birds need at this time of year.

This can be blended with oats or oatmeal, whole peanuts and other chopped nuts, and a wide variety of bird seeds of different kinds. This is perfect for a bird feeder buffet.

However, you can also use suet or other animal fats if you prefer.

You can also add other ingredients like unadulterated dried fruits 

Blend your ingredients and smear these into the inside of your ice bowl. Devoted bird lovers will surely be delighted, and find themselves in bird-watching bliss when a wide variety of wild birds arrive to enjoy the feast!

Bird Feeder Plans

simple bird feeder plan
  • Free DIY Windowsill Bird Feeder – There are many different ways to make a windowsill or bird feeding shelf. Here is one that is easy and straightforward.
  • Ice Bowl Feeder – A unique way to feed wild birds during the long cold winter season. It will bring interest and flair to your bird-feeding fun! Kids love this DIY project.
  • Woodpecker Feeder Plan 1 – A great, simple-to-make suet feeder that doesn’t take woodworking skills or expensive woodworking tools to make it.
  • Woodpecker – Many types of wild birds will use this WoodpeckerFeeder Plan 2Feeder, besides the woodpeckers, such as chickadees and nuthatches. You can also purchase suet plugs to fill it or stuff it with your own filling. Have a look.
  • Share Your Bird Feeder – Enjoy homemade bird feeder plans that other sitePlansvisitors have shared, and please feel invited to share your plans with everyone, including photos if you have them.
  • Free Bird Feeder Plans – There is something so satisfying about making items for your backyard birds to feed from. Free bird feeder plans offer you a variety of ways to do it.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a conservation, rewilding, organic gardening and sustainability specialist who loves everything nature-related. She loves helping others around the world connect with the wildlife and wonders around them. When not creating wildlife-wise, eco-friendly designs, or writing about the topics that inspire her, she loves spending time watching the birds on and around her own rural property, or heading out on camping or hiking adventures to spot birds and other wildlife in a range of habitats.