I love birds! I have three bird feeders up on my back porch, and I get to enjoy watching chickadees and finches all day long. But on three separate occasions in the past couple of weeks I have seen something entirely different- a hummingbird! Twice I saw it zipping around my porch looking for something to eat. I decided right then and there that I HAD to have a feeder for them.
As I sit here typing this I am watching the birds out my window, and looking up every few seconds waiting for that first hummingbird to visit. I don’t know how long it will take, but I am sure it will happen and I am SO EXCITED. It’s going to be like Christmas. I am totally normal.
So- I thought I would share with you the process I went through to create this feeder. There are some things I could have done better, but I was determined to use only what I had laying around the house.
Here is the finished product:
I have since cut off the white tip of the straw, and it is currently hanging at a bit of a lopsided angle but I don’t think the hummingbirds are going to care.So, now for the step-by-step!
You will need:
-1 clean, clear glass wine bottle (there is also a plethora of ways to do this with plastic bottles, but I save all of my wine bottles because they’re so pretty).
- 1 cork
- 1 plastic bendy straw (although if you’re like me, you will destroy several before getting it to work, so make sure you have plenty on hand)
- A ball of twine/yarn/string (wire would also be a good, stronger option for hanging the bottle, but I didn’t have any).
- Pine cones
- Spray paint
- Hot glue
- A strong epoxy (strong enough to bond glass)
1. First, remove the label from your bottle and clean out the inside with hot, soapy water. You don’t want any kind of residue (alcohol or not) that could hurt the teeny little birds.
2. Make the feeder tip. To do this, make a hole through the cork. The ideal tool would be a drill, but my little teeny drill only has tips for screws and it just wasn’t going to do the job. I used a combination of a wine bottle opener/cut length of coat hanger to get a big enough hole. Very amateurish, but I didn’t have a lot to work with.
To get the flimsy plastic straw through the cork, I cut the straw in the length I wanted (slightly less than half of a bendy straw, you can always trim more later) and threaded it onto a cut length of coat hanger wire. I then pushed the length of wire through the hole in the cork. Because the hole wasn’t as spacious as I would have liked, I had to use a twisting motion to get the straw to actually go through- at first it kept bunching up at the entrance. Once I got it through the bendy part was pretty mangled and no longer bendy, so I cut it short and pushed the bendy part of a new straw over the top of it. I sealed both ends with a strong epoxy to keep air from getting through, which will cause the feeder to leak.
3. In order to hang the feeder you have a lot of options (including sticking it in an onion bag, which would be a heck of a lot easier but I’ve established at this point that I only used what I had on hand). I created a complex net of braided yarn tied around the neck of the bottle. A lot of reinforcing and knots and glue was involved to ensure that it would hold. I don’t recommend copying this because I had NO idea what I was doing, but it seems to be working. By “seems to be working” I mean it hasn’t crashed down onto my lower neighbor’s head. Yet.
4. The feeder needs to have the color red on it to attract hummingbirds. To do this, I created flowers out of old pine cones and spray painted them red. This took some incredible patience on my part, which was really hard because I AM NOT PATIENT. It was a good exercise for me, and they turned out beautiful. Even prettier than I expected. You can do pretty much anything for the flowers, but since this feeder will be out in the elements you want to make sure it’s something that won’t melt away in the rain. So no pretty red tissue paper flowers, unfortunately. I hot glued the flowers to the neck of the bottle.
5. The hummingbird nectar is a mixture of 1 part cane sugar to 4 parts water, boiled for a few minutes and allowed to cool. Don’t add red food coloring, it’s not good for the hummingbirds. Make sure to change the nectar and rinse out the bottle with hot soapy water once a week to avoid fermenting/bacteria. For this feeder to work you have to create a vacuum inside the bottle so the nectar doesn’t drip out, so fill the bottle to brimming with nectar, allow the little air bubbles to rise to the top, and then stick the cork in, bendy-side-out. It will be a little messy since you have to allow it to overflow to ensure a vacuum.
As soon as the little guys start showing up I will post pictures!