The following bird feeder tutorial will help you celebrate Earth Day at home with a few simple supplies.

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to make homemade bird feed and bird feeders for our winged friends to enjoy! All materials needed for this craft I found right in my home. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything that’s listed, alternatives will be given too. We will be making a plastic cup and orange rind bird feeders! It was super fun and easy to make even though I am not a very crafty person!

Materials needed:

  • Homemade bird seed (recipe below)
  • Tupperware container or a brown paper bag
  • Napkins or paper towels
  • Blender/food processor
  • Oranges or grapefruit
  • Plastic cup
  • Hole puncher
  • String
  • Knife and scissors
  • Stickers (optional)

Our first step will be making the bird feed recipe!

Homemade bird feed is easier to make than you think. I was surprised that I had so much of the ingredients already in my kitchen! 

When making bird feed, it’s best to stay simple. A common and safe go to for wild birds are: 

  • Plain peanuts, other plain nuts like cashews, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Salted is okay but unsalted is preferred
  • Dried fruits like raisins
  • Baked eggshells which give female birds who have recently laid eggs the calcium boost they need. Rinse the eggshells after using them and bake them at 250F until dry and brittle
  • Plain cooked brown or white rice
  • Plain peanut butter

DO NOT put bread with your bird feed as bread gives no nutritional value to birds. Also do not give them chocolate. Like I said before, it’s best to give them simple ingredients!

Sidenote: I mentioned that unsalted nuts are preferred but salted is okay. It is okay for birds to consume salt but not a lot. You can remove some of the salt from nuts by placing them in a container or brown paper bag with napkins or paper towels. Shake the container/bag vigorously so that some of the salt sticks to the napkins and lessens the sodium contents for the birds!

You can put together any combination you want of the ingredients listed. Once you have all the ingredients gathered, I’d recommend blending the bigger nuts so that it is easier for the birds to peck at.

If you don’t have a blender or food processor at home, don’t fret. You can put the bigger nuts in a Ziplock bag and smash the nuts by crushing them with a meat tenderizer or a big, sturdy book of some kind.

Once you have everything done, set the bird feed aside in a bowl.

Now, on to making the bird feeders.

First, we will cut our orange and scoop out the pulp.

It’s best to roll the orange around so that it loosens up and is easier to take out. Try not to rip the rind too much as it will need to be intact so that it can be held up with string. 

Next, you’ll want to put holes in the sides of the orange rinds. What I found to be the easiest way was to press a straw into the rind to create a perfect circle. Place the holes not too close to the edge as we want our little orange bowl to be steady.

Once you get the holes in the orange, tie a string at both the holes. Give yourself some length so that you can tie them up on a branch.

Last, you’ll add some of your bird feed! Voila! Birds also will snack on the peel and it’s biodegradable!

The plastic cup bird feeder is a little quicker to make than the oranges. You’ll want to punch a hole at the top part of the cup. Tie the string at the bottom of the cup and tie the other end through the hole. Again, give yourself lots of slack so that you can hang it up.

When you hang up the cup, you’ll want the bottom of the cup angled down so that the bottom string doesn’t slip off and fall.

Next, fill the cup with your homemade bird feed. I added some stickers just to make it look cuter! 🙂

All you have to do is find a place to hang them up! Be sure to clean up afterwards (I clearly made a bit of a mess). Keep an eye on your feeders and see what lovely little friends decide to visit your backyard.

Check out these additional resources below for more information.

Additional Resources: 

Feeding Eggshells: https://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/solve/howto/feedshells.php

Feeding your backyard birds: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/feeding-your-backyard-birds

Good things to feed your birds: http://www.birdsandblooms.com/birding/attracting-birds/feeding-birds/10-things-arent-feeding-birds-yet/

What not to feed your birds: https://www.kennedywildbirdfood.co.uk/news/what-not-to-feed-wild-birds-your-complete-guide/

Mariah Pugliese is a Reference Librarian at the Kirkwood Public Library. When not at the library, she enjoys reading and writing sci-fi/fantasy and taking care of her 25+ houseplants who are all named after fictional characters in literature.