If you love watching pretty birds enjoy your yard, you’ll love this easy bird feeder DIY for kids of all ages. It’s mess free and easy to hang from a tree so your feathered friends can enjoy their bird food.
Every year the girls make DIY bird feeders, whether that is at school or at a community event. They’re usually an easy project consisting of peanut butter smeared on a pine cone or cardboard tube, then rolled in bird seed.
This DIY Bird Feeder tutorial is a bit different in that it’s free of peanut butter. Instead it uses gelatin to hold the birdseed together in different shapes you can hang on trees.
Not only is it a fun craft to do with young children, it’s a great way to make a backyard bird feeder to attract more wild birds to watch and learn about. You’ll never want to buy one again after making your own bird feeder.
- Supplies and Tools
- By the Numbers: How to Make a Bird Feeder
- Tips for Making Homemade Bird Feeders
- DIY Bird Feeder
- More Simple DIY Projects for the Outdoors
Supplies and Tools
- 1 ½ cups of birdseed
- 5 teaspoons of gelatin
- ½ cup of water
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cookie cutters
- Parchment paper
- Small pan
By the Numbers: How to Make a Bird Feeder
Follow these simple step by step instructions to learn how to make a simple bird feeder your neighborhood birds will love.
Step 1: Dissolve Gelatin in Water.
In a small pot, mix 5 teaspoons of gelatin with ½ cup of cold water and heat over medium, stirring constantly, until gelatin is totally dissolved. It should take about 1-2 minutes.
Step 2: Mix Birdseed into Gelatin.
After the gelatin is fully dissolved, turn the heat off. Mix in 1 ½ cups of birdseed until well combined.
Step 3: Press Mixture into Cookie Cutters.
Lay out your chosen cookie cutters on plates lined with parchment paper. Scoop the birdseed and gelatin mixture from the pan into the cookie cutters. Use your fingertips to press it down and smooth it out.
If you have young kids, this step is a great one for them to practice their fine motor skills.
Step 4: Create Hole for Hanging.
Next, take a stick (like a skewer) and make small holes in the top of each of the birdseed-filled cookie cutters so you can tie twine through it later for hanging.
Step 5: Freeze Bird Feeders.
Set the plates you’ve made your bird feeders on in the freezer for 10 minutes so they can begin to solidify. After 10 minutes, remove them from your freezer and place them on your counter at room temperature for another 10 minutes so they can finish setting. If they feel firm, you can carefully separate the bird feeders from the cookie cutters.
Step 6: Tie Twine Through Hole.
Once they’re removed from the cooker cutters, you want to tie a piece of twine through the hole so it’s easy to hang outside.
Step 7: Hang Bird Feeder.
Hang your beautiful bird feeder in a tree in your yard for small birds to enjoy. You can also hang them on a Christmas tree as an ornament.
Tips for Making Homemade Bird Feeders
Answers to all of your questions about making a handmade bird feeder with a natural look for your backyard.
1. Why feed wild birds? Is it okay?
You may be wondering if it’s even a good idea to feed birds. The answer is yes, in most cases it’s fine to feed local wild birds.
One benefit to feeding birds some people don’t think of is helping birds through harsh winters. Some seasons it’s harder for them to find food than others, and you could save some pretty little birds with your feeder. I love watching the winter birds flit around outside when there’s snow on the ground.
It’s important to do a little research on the birds in your area to make sure you’re choosing the right food source for them first. We have a local nature center that has lots of information on our local wildlife, so that’s something to look into.
If you know what the different birds in your area like to eat, then you’ll be able to choose the right food source for those birds.
3. What types of birds will this attract?
You’ll attract different birds depending on the seed you choose, which is why it’s important to know what they like. What I used in the batch you see in the pictures is just a basic premixed bird feed from a local pet store.
However, that’s not always the best option. A lot of cheap birdseeds you can get at the pet or grocery store are full of filler seeds birds don’t even like. Some of these more common filler ingredients are millet (red and golden), flaxseed, canary seed and rapeseed (you probably know this plant as canola).
Many birds will literally pick around these seeds or throw them on the ground searching for what they want. You can end up with a mess in your yard. We have lots of squirrels and chipmunks around to eat what the birds discard, but that’s not true for all areas.
Rather than a blend they’ll pick through, you can choose a single seed like black oil sunflower seeds that a lot of birds like. The black sunflower seeds are better than the striped ones as they have a softer shell that’s easier for birds to open.
A few other ingredients that are good for birds in most seasons are peanuts, cracked corn, suet and safflower. I’ve also bred mealworms as chicken treats for years and we love tossing a few out for the wild birds too because of how excited they get.
2. Will it attract squirrels or other rodents?
I like to hang my bird feeders for a few reasons. I like to give birds an easy food source so they stay out of the garden and they’re so much fun to watch.
However, one great thing you may not have thought about is that by hanging your feeders from a tree, it’s harder for bigger animals to access them. We will sometimes find baby chipmunks getting to them, but not squirrels and other rodents.
4. Is gelatin safe for birds?
Yes, gelatin is safe to feed birds. It consists of a variety of amino acids as long as you choose unflavored gelatin. Do not feed birds flavored gelatins as they contain other ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, food coloring and more that you don’t want to introduce to the local wildlife.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you live somewhere that gets really hot, the gelatin may melt due to the heat. So you want to place these in the shade or choose to only hang them in cooler months.
5. Other types of easy DIY bird feeders?
If you would like to make a variety of bird feeder projects, here are several more ideas using different materials:
- Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder. PBS has a fun tutorial using an old plastic soda bottle. You could also use a larger water bottle or even an old tennis ball can.
- Pine Cone Bird Feeder. Check out this classic craft using a popsicle stick to smear peanut butter on a pine cone.
- Cardboard Roll Feeder. All you need is an empty toilet paper roll, a butter knife and peanut or almond butter to make this one.
- Mason Jar Bird Feeder. This easy tutorial uses the same setup as we used for our chicken feeders, but hung from a tree. I’ve also seen some fun tutorials using thick leather strips for hanging like the one at Let’s DIY It All.
- Tea Cup Bird Feeder. This adorable craft uses hot glue to put together a tea cup and tray for a pretty feeding station.
- Wine Bottle Bird Feeder. This upcycled bird feeder is a great way to use an old glass bottle to attract birds to your yard.
- Tray Bird Feeder. I love how this DIY basically makes a platform that’s easy for all birds to eat from. You could make something similar with some scraps of wood and wood glue too.
- DIY Hummingbird Feeders. I adore watching hummingbirds collect nectar from my yard, and I’m excited to make my own hummingbird feeder soon.
- License Plate Feeder. Isn’t this bird feeder house made with old license plates and wood pieces so much fun?
- Can Bird Feeder. I love how you can turn old tin cans (or even old cups) on their side, add a perch and you have a perfect feeder for small birds.
- Milk Jug Bird Feeders. When my daughters were young, we liked to turn milk cartons into bird feeders. It was so much fun!
6. Is peanut butter safe for wild birds?
Any bird that eats nuts in the wild will like peanut butter and this can include birds like woodpeckers, blue jays, nuthatches and more. The most important thing to remember is that most peanut butter from the grocery store is not made with 100% peanuts.
You’ll often find salt, sugar and/or palm oil added to peanut butter, and these ingredients are not safe for birds. If you’re going to feed them peanut butter, make sure the recipe is made with 100% peanuts and absolutely no other additives.
7. Where to learn more about birds?
DIY Bird Feeder
- 1 ½ cups birdseed
- 5 teaspoons gelatin - or 2 packets of unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup filtered water
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cookie cutters
- Parchment paper
- Small pan
- Mix your gelatin with cold water, place in a small pot, and heat while stirring to dissolve gelatin.
- Once your gelatin is dissolved, turn off the heat and combine birdseed with the gelatin contents of the pan.
- Place your cookie cutters onto parchment paper lined plates. Scoop the bird seed mixture into your cookie cutters and press it down with your fingers.
- Press a stick in the top of the seed mixture to make a small hole for your string.
- Set in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and set on the counter at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the bird feeders from the cookie cutters.
- Use twine tied through the hole to create a hanger.
- Hang your DIY bird feeder in a tree outside for little birds to enjoy.