Sunday, March 31, 2013

DIY Sunflower Tower Bird-Feeder

I recently conducted a class for the Master Gardener chapter that I'm a member of on making bird-feeders utilizing natural sources, recycled materials and re-purposed items. Of course the best bird-feeder is what nature provides: nuts, seeds and fruit from native trees, shrubs and wildflowers (and native insects)... Here's my hand-out for my "bird" talk I give:  Creating a Bird Garden

But - this class was all about creating bird-feeders and I came up with a few originals and I experimented with several I found on the Internet. Sunflower seeds will attract the widest variety of birds (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1980) and I wanted to demonstrate a feeder that specially offered this seed. My inspiration for this feeder was actually a similar design that I saw at Walmart for around $15.00...
Two 6" terracotta saucers
1/4" mesh hardware cloth
Glass and tile drill bit - 1/8"
3/32" vinyl coated wire rope (about 2 feet) 
1/8" ferrule and stop set
Zip ties
Pliers, drill, wire cutter
Start by drilling 1/8" holes in the center of each saucer. It's pretty easy to drill these holes with the appropriate drill bit. I also purchased a ceramic bird (to set on top of the feeder) and drilled a hole in the top of the bird also (Michael's $2.00).

Roll the hardware cloth into a tube that will fit inside the flat bottom part of the saucer. Using a wire cutter, carefully snip all the sharp edges of the hardware cloth. - I folded the vertical edge of the mesh to give an added protection of any sharp edges... Fasten the tube edges together using zip ties. Pull the ties closed on the inside of the tube then cut off the excess. 

Thread the wire rope through the top saucer, mesh tube and bottom saucer. Using pliers clamp the ferrule and stop onto the wire at the base and top.

Because I had an extra piece of hardware cloth and the appropriate drill bit, this feeder cost less than $10.00 to construct. Hardware cloth is fairly expensive though and I'm not sure if you can purchase only a small portion. The $15.00 Walmart feeder might be cheaper in the end, but I like the looks of this one much more! 

Male Cardinal, Male Goldfinch and Female Purple Finches
Male Goldfinches and House (or Purple?) Finch
Male Goldfinch and Downy Woodpecker
Heritage Chickens!   

This feeder has quickly become the most popular feeding station. The mesh cloth prevents very little birdseed waste, but if any sunflower seeds do fall to the ground - they are quickly devoured by my busy flock of foraging hens...

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