Last updated on March 9th, 2021 at 11:58 pm
Recycle Plastic Containers to Make a Hummingbird Feeder
by Jane Lake
It’s been almost 20 years since I first posted this simple recipe for hummingbird food, and my interest in these charming little birds grows with each summer season.
I’ve learned how to feed the hummingbirds by hand, and also how to make my own hummingbird feeders from recycled materials.
On this page, I’ll show you how I make my own feeders from cream cheese containers and plastic water bottles. I’ve also provided a video tutorial for a similar feeder with a simple knotted string holder.
Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to make one or two DIY feeders yourself, for virtually no cost.
Backyard hummingbird feeders contribute to the health of the hummingbird population and make it possible for them to thrive throughout the range of their extensive and migratory feeding grounds.
You can help by setting out one or more homemade hummingbird feeders of your own. This also saves some plastic from ending up in your local landfill. The earth, the hummingbirds, and me; we all thank you!
Homemade Hummingbird Feeder
This feeder is made entirely of recycled materials and the hummingbirds love it. The reservoir holds plenty of nectar and it is easy to take apart and clean.
You Will Need:
- small plastic container with a tight-fitting, flexible plastic lid (i.e. cream cheese or dip container)
- plastic bottle with lid
- strong rubber band or zip tie
- homemade hummingbird food
- paper hole punch
- awl, drill or exacto knife
- optional: plastic flowers with a hollow stem and a take-out plastic lid with a raised rim that is about two inches larger in diameter than the container
1. Make four holes in the container lid, using a paper punch, awl, knife or drill. These will be the hummingbird feeding ports.
If you like, insert a plastic flower with a short hollow stem into each hole (or glue fake flowers around the holes) to attract the birds to the feeding ports. For my first feeder, I reused yellow flowers from a broken hummingbird feeder, then I tried making flowers from plastic straws and they worked but didn’t stay in place as much as I would have liked.
I didn’t use any flowers for the feeder ports on the next one and the birds were just as happy, so that’s my plan from now on. Simple is good!
2. Remove the bottle cap. Set the top of the bottle in the center of the container lid. Trace around it with a pen. Cut out the circle with sharp scissors or exacto knife, being very careful to cut inside the line. You want the bottle neck to fit snugly through this hole.
3. Now make a good-sized hole, or several smaller holes, in the top of the bottle cap. An awl, drill or even a hammer and a nail can be used for this. This opening allows the nectar to flow from the bottle into the tub below.
4. Fill the bottle with homemade hummingbird food.
4. Push the neck of the bottle through the hole that you made in the center of the container lid. Now screw the bottle cap in place, so the the lid is trapped between the rim of the bottle and the bottle cap.
5. Turn the container upside down and fit it onto its lid. Carefully turn the hummingbird feeder the right way up. The nectar will flow into the container, automatically stopping when it reaches the opening in the bottle lid.
6. Loosely fasten a zip tie around the upper part of the bottle. Tie the ends of a loop of string on opposite sides of the zip tie. Tighten up the zip tie to secure the string.
7. Hang the hummingbird feeder by the string where you can easily watch the hummingbirds come in to feed.
Optional Take-Out Lid Perch with Recycled Flower Basket Hanger
For an additional perch, you can use a circular plastic lid larger than the reservoir container by an inch or so all around with a slightly raised rim.
I used the lid from take-out Chinese food and recycled a three-claw hanger from a summer flower basket to suspend this feeder.
I found that the extra perching area gave the hummers somewhere to settle in for a bit while they were eating. That suits me just fine. Smile.
To do this, place the reservoir (cream cheese container?) in the middle of the take-out lid and trace around it with a pen. Cut the hole out, being careful to cut only inside the line, creating a doughnut-shaped plastic circle. Push the bottom of the reservoir container through the hole, until the outer rim that you just made fits just below the lid of the reservoir itself.
If the fit is tight enough, the plastic circle stays firmly in place, easily supporting several hummingbirds as they stop for nectar.
With this method, you may also recycle a plastic hanger from a flower basket to hold the hummingbird feeder.
These hangers consist of a clothes-hanger type hook above three plastic claws with molded ends that grip the rim of a planter basket. Try attaching the ends to equally spaced spots on the rim of the plastic circle around your hummingbird feeder.
I had to cut a small slit for one side of each claw. Insert the inside sections of the claws into each slit and it should pinch together with the outside section, making a sturdy pressure fit.
You can see from the photos that this recycled hanger works very well and doesn’t bother the hummingbirds at all, but you could also use string hangers, chains, or whatever you have available.
Another Cheap Hummingbird Feeder
Short video tutorial on making a hummingbird feeder from a pop bottle and plastic container, by Will Hill.
This is very similar to my design, with the addition of an interesting knotted string holder.
You can find many more Hummingbird Feeder Videos on YouTube. Enjoy.