About a week ago, I was besieged by hummingbirds. I only had two feeders up, and they were quickly overrun by hungry hummers, three separate warring factions having miniature dogfights outside my windows from sunup to dusk. They crashed into my screens, for goodness sake. They spent so much time fighting that I doubt they were able to eat.
I tried to find more of the inexpensive feeders I was used to, but they were sold out. All that remained were expensive. And overkill. Hummingbird plazas with 20 feeding stations, holding a quart of nectar. I’d rather have many feeders with lots of space between them than ask these aggressive little nitwits to share.
So I started making feeders. 😀
This is for all the people who’ve asked for step-by-step instructions for making a hummingbird feeder from useless junk. If, like me, your husband is a hoarder, you’re in luck! Just go to shelving unit 73, shelf 4, and grab a sour cream container from the 57 representatives in the yellow box.The remaining items can be found by perusing his database.
Here’s what you’ll need to start with:
2. Something for a base, preferably a plastic container with a lid that fits tightly enough to hold the container up.
3. A drinking straw, preferably plastic.
4. A glue gun. This will hold stuff together and plug leaks.
5. Scissors. If you don’t have scissors, an exacto knife or some such cutting thingy will work just fine.
6. Drill. You can poke holes with other things, like scissors or ice picks or even nails, but the drill will be easier and more accurate.
7. Red or yellow felt or plastic or whatever – just something to help the birds find their target.
So, this is how the two main pieces will fit together. The bottle feeds into the sour cream container, and you want to make it so the mouth of the bottle is wherever you want the top of the sugar water to be. The tapered bottle neck makes this easy. Just cut the hole in the sour cream lid, and then widen it until the bottle sits at the desired height.
I just stabbed the center with the scissors and then started cutting. There are safer methods, but, well, they take longer.
This is sitting about where I want it. Don’t worry about the little gaps. The hot glue will fill those in.
Hot glue the outer surface . . .
. . . and the inner surface. Put the top and bottom pieces together and make sure the bottle is straight before the glue dries. There’s quite a bit of time to foozle and get it straight.
Select a drill bit that’s about the same size as your straw.
Drill as many holes as you want. Each hole will be a feeding station. Height is tricky. You want these holes below the water line, but high enough that you can set your straws at an angle. (The following pictures should make this a bit more clear.)
See how the straw is angled upward?
I made four feeding stations. Angling the straws allows them to reach the very bottom of the feeder and also lets them hold quite a bit of nectar (sugar water).
Ideally, you want to come up with measurements that allow the birds’ beaks to reach nearly to the bottom of the feeder. (I don’t measure – I eyeball. So I can’t provide useful measurements.)
Hot glue the straws into position. You may have to hold them in place until the glue sets, but it doesn’t take long. (Yes, I need to clean the straw.)
Don’t worry about trimming them yet.
So, at this point, if you put your feeder together, it should look something like this.
Notice I’ve filled it with water. Just take the two parts apart, fill the bottle, attach the base, and then turn it over.
Then start trimming the straws until you can see the water very close to the end of the straw.
Don’t trim too much (not into the water) or the feeder will leak. (Or you could repair it by building up the end with hot glue. There’s always a fix.)
Now all that’s left is a hanger. This is another reason for using a bottle with a tapered neck. Gives you a place to tie a string.
I usually add a metal hook (made from a piece of aluminum wire). It’s easier to hang in natural settings.
Adding colorful targets helps the birds to find the feeding holes.
These are felt, but most any material will do.
Keep the targets slightly back from the ends of the holes so they don’t wick the nectar out.
Now dump out the water you used to figure out where to cut the straws. Fill with nectar, hang it up, and wait for your first customer. 🙂
Nectar Recipe: 1 cup water to 1/4 cup sugar. Plain old cane sugar – don’t feed them anything else. People who know more than I do could probably give you good reasons.
Add sugar to water in a sauce pan, bring just to boil, cover, let cool, and then fill your feeder. Store excess in the fridge. Dump the feeder, wash it, and add fresh nectar every 48 hours minimum. If you see any sign of mold, bleach and scrub, or make a new feeder. 😀
The mold can kill hummingbirds. (Seriously – it can.) So if you choose to feed the little monsters, please feed them responsibly.
I hope you enjoy your cheap feeder as much as I enjoy mine. 🙂