How to Make a Modern DIY Bird Feeder for Only $10

published Jul 13, 2020
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red, green, and black DIY modern bird feeder hanging in front of a wood wall

As far as fun, cheap activities go, it’s hard to beat watching birds—especially when you can do it from your window. I’ve always wanted to get a bird feeder for my home, but every time I searched around for a really cool, modern bird feeder I ended up falling in love with some designer teak wood creation that was way out of my budget. While I can appreciate beautifully designed pieces, my bank account can’t! So I did what I always do when I fall in love with something special that I can’t afford: I figured out how to make a similar version myself. 

I’d had my eye on these colorful, low-cost plastic dishes from Target for a while, but never had a reason to buy them because my family’s more than set with dishes. But I realized that the colors and shapes reminded me of this quirky, sculptural DIY pendant light project from The House That Lars Built. It inspired me to create a DIY bird feeder in a similar style—super modern, but still playful. So, I headed to Target to buy lots of different colors and sizes of plates, cups, and bowls, and played around with designs until I found something that was unique and practical for a bird feeder. All in, the final product cost me less than $10 and was really fun to create (so fun, I made more than one!). Here’s how you can make your own.

Supplies to make your own modern DIY bird feeder

How to make a DIY modern bird feeder

1. Map out the shape of your feeder

Lay out your dishes and find color combinations you like. Next, play around with positioning to find something unique, but also something that provides shelter for birds and decent coverage over the birdseed. 

2. Drill holes in the dishes and a few of the dowel caps

Because of the way the bowls are produced, you should already have a center mark on the bottom underside of the dish. Using a 1⁄4” drill bit, carefully drill through the plastic. It’s helpful to place a piece of scrap wood underneath the plate to catch the drill bit once it goes through the dish. If you’re using melamine or a more brittle plastic, tape off the area with painter’s tape and drill slowly to help keep the dish from splintering. Use a sharp knife to trim handles or any other parts of the dish that you don’t want. 

3. Put together the feeder

Thread the dishes onto the dowel. To hold them in place, drill through your dowel caps so that there is a hole all the way through the wood bead, and those onto the dowel, too, above and below each dish.

4. Glue dishes in place

Once you’ve decided on a design, move the dishes and dowel caps apart the slightest bit and add a small amount of wood glue to the dowel where the dowel caps and dishes will go. Then, slide the cap over the glue and slide the dish back in place. Drilled out dowel caps—with holes all the way through—can also be used as decorative elements along the dowel. Make sure to save two dowel caps that were not drilled through to use on both the top and bottom of the feeder. For the bottom of the feeder, place a dot of glue on the inside of the dowel cap and push it onto the dowel.

5. Finish with a hook for hanging

Insert a screw eye into the very top of a dowel cap that has not been drilled through. Fill the dowel cap with wood glue, and place it on the very top of the dowel. Once the wood glue is dry, thread twine or fishing line through the screw eye to hang the bird feeder. Fill the bowl with a mix of good quality seeds to attract all kinds of birds, and enjoy!