By Contributing Editor Kristina Strain
It doesn’t take much to transform an empty plastic bottle into a useful and attractive homemade hummingbird feeder. This project would make a terrific gift for any bird-loving family member or avid gardener on your list, and it’s one kids can help with, too! Set them to work cutting the felt flowers while you wield the glue gun.
Hummingbird Feeder Parts:
1 empty plastic bottle with screw top. Almost anything would work here. I chose a V8 bottle for its unique shape.
1 larger plastic cap, such the cap from an aerosol can. I used a cap from a can of cooking spray for its color– red to attract hummingbirds– but a spray paint or even a laundry detergent bottle cap would probably work. As long as it’s bigger and wider than your bottle’s screw cap, you’re set.
Sandpaper, 80 grit or higher.
Optional: masking tape if you want to make stripes with your spray paint
Red craft felt. Add another color if desired, but be sure to include red– it attracts hummingbirds like nothing else!
Utility or craft knife
Screwdriver or drill
Small eye hook, and string for hanging.
Step one: Cut away the middle of your screw cap. If using a drill, make many holes in the cap and use your craft knife to cut between them. If using a screwdriver, heat it on the stove and use it to poke holes. Use a pair of pliers to hold your cap, if necessary.
Here’s the cut-away cap. It doesn’t have to be pretty; no one’s going to see this part except you.
Step two: Using your craft knife, cut your larger plastic cap down a little, so it’s about 1.5 – 2 inches tall.
Step three: Warm up your glue gun. Hold the smaller cap suspended inside the larger one, so the lip of the smaller one sits above the larger one. Use hot glue to build a bridge attaching the small cap and keeping it suspended in the middle. Use lots of hot glue to make a good seal, but be sure and leave some gaps, otherwise your feathered friends won’t be able to get a drink!
Step four: Remove the label from your bottle and sand it gently all over with sandpaper. Spray paint in your desired color. This will take a few coats. While you’re waiting for the paint to dry, skip ahead to step five.
Step five: Cut flowers out of craft felt. I used six flowers for my feeder, but feel free to cut extras. You could even adhere flowers to side of the bottle for decoration. As I mentioned above, red is the important color here!
Step six: Once dry, take your spray-painted bottle and gently screw it in. Using a drill or heated screwdriver again, make a small hole in the top of the bottle and insert your eye hook.
Step seven: Glue your felt flowers to the cap assemblage, over the hot glue “bridge” that attaches one cap to the other. Make sure you leave some spaces between the flowers.
Now, thread some twine or wire through the eye hook, and go out to look for a good place to hang your feeder. The best location is shady and in plain sight, that way the syrup won’t evaporate as fast and you can tell when the feeder needs filling.
Hummingbird Feeder Solution
1 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Red food coloring (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water together over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture begins to simmer and all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add the food coloring, if desired, and fill the feeder.
Don’t make more hummingbird feeder solution than your birds can drink in one week’s time, even though the bottle can hold a lot. If the syrup sits in the bottle for too long, fermentation can occur, and that’s not good for the hummingbirds. Take care to rinse out the bottle every couple weeks, as well.
Hummingbirds are a lovely thing to have around. Aside from being pretty to look at, they’re important pollinators and indicators of a healthy habitat.