52 DIY Winter Bird Feeder Ideas - Backyard Boss
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52 DIY Winter Bird Feeder Ideas

During the cold winter months, our feathered friends have a more challenging time searching for food and maintaining the energy needed to survive the low temperatures. One of the best ways that we, as bird lovers, can help them make it through this period is to provide bird feeders in our yard to make food a little more easily accessible.

Unfortunately, the cost of some bird feeders can push them out of the budget rather quickly, but don’t let that stop you from bird watching this winter in your own backyard. To help you save a little money and create some unique feeders we have put together this list of 52 easy-to-make DIY winter bird feeder ideas using items that you likely have sitting around the house.

So, tap in your creative side and get ready to get crafty!

Table of Contents

Pinecone Bird Feeders

Pinecone Bird Feeder
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Requiring nothing but a pinecone, peanut butter, birdseed, and a piece of string, this is a quick and easy DIY project that can be assembled by kids of any age. To begin, you will need a large pinecone. While you can purchase these during the winter season at most craft stores, you can also collect your own to use for the project, cutting down on the cost. Cover the pinecone with peanut butter and then roll your feeder in a bowl of birdseed before adding the string for hanging. The peanut butter will hold the seed in place for the neighborhood birds to enjoy.

Decorative Bird Feeder Wreath

Bird Feeder Wreath
Image credits: OakleyOriginals via Wrodpress.org

If you are looking for a fun bird feeder option that can also be displayed as part of your holiday decorations, the decorative bird feeder wreath is a fun feeder for kids of all ages. You will need a standard bundt can or donut tray to create the rounded shape. Grease your pan thoroughly to make sure that your wreath can easily be removed when you’re finished.

In one bowl, mix 1/3 cup of water, 1/4 cup of flour, and ½ cup of light corn syrup. This will form a natural glue that will give your wreath structure. To your glue mixture, add 3 1/2 cups of birdseed and stir well until the birdseed is fully coated. In a second bowl, combine 1 cup gelatin powder with 1/2 cup warm water. Add the water slowly, stirring as the gelatin dissolves until the mixture is super thick and yet still pourable.

Allow your child to ‘decorate’ the wreath by sprinkling their choice of pumpkin seeds, cranberries, sunflower seeds, fruits, and almonds in the pan. When they are happy with the appearance, pour the gelatin mixture over their creation and give it a chance to set. When it has formed enough to support the final layer, add your birdseed and ‘glue’ layer on top, firmly pressing it into the bundt pan to create a solid backing to your wreath.

Set the pan in the fridge and leave it overnight to continue to firm up. The next day, tie a string around the wreath and hang it outdoors where the wild birds can enjoy it. Make sure to hang it in a location where your children can watch the birds come and go.

Coffee Mug Suet Bird Feeder

A solo coffee mug on the tree roots in fall
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Many of us have extra mugs hanging around at home that we’ve picked up somewhere along the way. We stash them away in the back of our cupboards where they accumulate over time. This winter, transform those unused mugs into cute suet bird feeders. To create these, you will need a stick long enough to touch the bottom of the much and stick out the top approximately 4”, beef suet from your local grocery store (or homemade suet), and your choice of birdseed.

Fill your mugs up halfway with birdseed before placing your sticks against one side. You can use a thick gauge wire or clothespins to help hold the stick in place. Render your suet over the stove, until it is a pourable liquid and then add it to your mugs. Place the mugs in the refrigerator and allow them to sit until the suet mixture has fully hardened. Tie a string around the handle of the mug and hang it out for the birds to enjoy.

Simple Bird Feeder with a Toilet Paper Roll

Simple Bird Feeder with a Toilet Paper Roll
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Another easy-to-make bird feeder that even the youngest kids in your family can confidently make is the toilet paper roll bird feeder. Using an empty cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper, cover the exterior of the roll in peanut butter. Roll the tube in a bowl full of birdseed, allowing the peanut butter to act as a glue, holding the seed on the surface. String a piece of twine or string through the middle of the tube and tie it into a loop large enough to hang your new bird feeder.

Rustic Log Bird Feeder

bird feeder as a log
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For those that love the more rustic decorating style, this simple bird feeder made from nothing more than a long, narrow log is the perfect solution. All you need to make it is a log that is approximately 2-3 inches wide and 2 feet long, a large eye hook, twine, and either prepackaged or homemade suet. To begin, affix your large eye hook into the top of the log. You will use this to hang your feeder when you’re finished. Using a drill, make wide, shallow holes randomly spaced around the sides of the log.

Taking your suet, warm it up enough that it is malleable and can be worked with. Taking a spoonful at a time, fill the holes in your log packing the suet in as much as possible. Tie a piece of twine through the eye at the top of your log and your feeder is ready to hang. If you notice that the traffic to your bird feeder is slowing down, it’s likely time to refill by adding more suet.

Ice Cream Cone Bird Feeder

making a pine cone bird feeder
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Ice cream cones are surprisingly versatile when it comes to making DIY bird feeders.  Whether you have traditional ice cream cones or waffle cones sitting in your pantry, you can easily turn those extra cones into a fun little bird feeder. Start by tying a knot at the end of a piece of string before threading it through the base of the cone. This will allow you to hang your feeder when it’s completed. As you did with other options on this list, cover the exterior of the ice cream cone with peanut butter before rolling it in a bowl of birdseed. You can hang your ornament as is, or use Cheerios to cover the string.

Quick and Easy Water Bottle Bird Feeder

bird feeder made from artificial plastic bottles
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We have all heard the warnings about the large number of plastic water bottles that end up in the landfill every year from people drinking bottled water. This winter, repurpose those bottles instead of throwing them out by making a simple bird feeder. Carefully pierce a hole in the cap of the bottle use it to attach a long piece of string or twine to hang your feeder when it’s completed.

Find 2 sticks in your yard that are long enough they can extend through the bottle and extend on the outside to use as perches. To insert them into the bottle, cut a small slit into the bottle and slide the stick through. Cut a small hole above each perch to give the birds access to the seeds and then fill your bottle with birdseed before hanging it.

Orange Peel Bird Feeder

bird feeder made by orange peel
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If you have plans to do some baking involving citrus, this is a great opportunity to make some fun all-natural homemade bird feeders. Carefully one end of an orange or lemon off to give you access to the fruit inside, carefully scooping it out with a spoon until the rind is completely clean. Set the fruit that you removed aside for your baking needs. Using a large sewing needle, thread a piece of string or twine through each side of the opening to create a loop that can be used to hang your feeder. You can fill your orange peel bird feeder with plain birdseed or use gelatin as you did above with the wreath feeder.

All Natural Apple Bird Feeder

Bird feeder apples
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Another great all-natural feeder, similar to the orange peel feeder, is made using an apple. Cut your apple in half and carefully scoop out the center where the core is located. In this case, you want to leave some of the fruit around the edges both to add structure to the feeder and to serve as an additional source of food for fruit-loving wild birds. Take a standard screw, working it into the apple until it’s in half. Tie a piece of twine around the exposed half of the screw creating a loop to hang your feeder.

Dissolve 2 packages of unflavored gelatin powder into 2/3 cup of hot water in a pot on the stove. Continue stirring until it creates a thick texture then add 2 cups of birdseed, mixing it fully until the seed is fully coated. Spoon the birdseed mixture into the hollowed-out apple pieces, packing as much birdseed into the space as possible.

DIY Bird Feeder Using Craft Sticks

Popsicle Sticks
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For those who have children, craft sticks are a common crafting item that you likely have at home. To make this feeder, you will need approximately 35 to 45 wide craft sticks. Before you begin, cut one craft stick in half, and set it aside. Taking 2 craft sticks and a sharp pair of scissors, make a hole in each end and set them aside. These pieces will all be used later during assembly.

Place 8 craft sticks side by side to create a flat, square shape. Using a hot glue gun, attach 2 sticks as support beams across the square that you’ve created. Flip your base over so that the support beams are on the bottom and start building up the sides of your feeder 2 craft sticks at a time, alternating opposite ends of the previous row. Secure each row both by hot gluing the edges and in the center of the craft stick. After 5 layers, take the two halves that you cut earlier, placing them so that they extend out from the feeder as a perch. Add 5 more layers to build up the sides.

Cut two lengths of string or twine to be used to hang your feeder. Feed each string through one of the craft sticks you previously made holes in, tying the string on the bottom of the craft stick with the loop extending above. Glue these as a row to the top of the walls, being sure to secure the knot in the center with an extra bead of hot glue. With the third piece of string, bring the two loops together in the center of the feeder and tie them together, creating a pyramid-style hanging system. You are now ready to paint your feeder (if desired), fill it with birdseed, and hang it outdoors for a reliable winter bird feeding solution.

Beer Bottle Bird Feeder

Beer Bottle Bird Feeder
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Beer lovers: here’s a fun outdoor bird feeder that not only showcases your personality but also gives you an excuse to enjoy a cold one. After all, you need the empty bottle! To begin, you will need a glass cutting drill bit to cut two or three holes near the bottom of the bottle large enough for the birdseed to easily move through. For the base of your bird feeder, you will need a saucer that is slightly bigger than the bottom of the beer bottle. Using epoxy, place a layer all around the bottom rim of the bottle before adhering it to the middle of the saucer and giving it time to set. Using a thick gauge of wire, wrap it around the top of the bottle to create a strong hanger. Fill your feeder with birdseed and place it out for your feathered friends to enjoy.

Sliced Bread Bird Feeder

Sliced Bread Bird Feeder
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Are you looking for an easy bird feeder solution that requires little to no planning or preparation? If so, this is the perfect solution! All this feeder requires is a string, a slice of bread, peanut butter, and birdseed. Using a large sewing needle, thread your string through the corner of your slice of bread and tie it to make a loop. Using a basic butter knife spread peanut butter all over one (or both) sides of the bread before sprinkling the area with birdseed. The peanut butter will hold the birdseed like glue. This is a great choice for those who have kids that want to join in on the fun.

Mason Jar Bird Feeder

Mason jar
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To make your own mason jar bird feeder, you will need a mason jar in your choice of size, cleaned out and fully dry (to avoid getting the birdseed damp), a wooden dowel at least 10 inches in length, and a long piece of twine. You can choose to dress it up, if you’d like, with pony beads in your favorite colors. To begin, glue your dowel running along one side of the jar using a strong adhesive like Gorilla Glue or E-6000. Tuck one end of a long piece of twine into the glue approximately ¼ of the way up the jar before allowing it to dry completely holding both the dowel and the twine in place.

Take the twine that is now attached to the jar and begin wrapping it around the jar and the dowel tightly, working your way up the length of the jar until you are approximately ¼ from the end before tying it off. This twine adds not only to the rustic aesthetic of your feeder but also to the strength of your dowel perch. To hang your feeder, wrap one piece of twine around the mouth of the jar a couple of times, securing it with a knot or with a couple of pony beads. Do the same at the bottom of the jar. Bring both pieces of twine together and tie a knot to create a large hanging loop. Fill your feeder with birdseed and it’s ready to put outside.

Paper Plate Bird Feeder

Paper Plate Bird Feeder
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While a paper plate may not have enough strength to last as a bird feeder for an extended time, the addition of a wicker paper plate holder will easily solve this problem. To begin, use a hole punch to make 3-4 evenly spaced holes around the edge of the plate. Take a piece of twine or string and feed it through the hole as well as through the wicker plate holder before tying a knot to hold everything in place. This next step is optional, but it is a great way to add a fun additional snack for the birds. Thread Cheerios onto the long end of each tied piece of twine to create the hanging strings. To keep the birdseed from blowing out of the shallow plate, spread a layer of peanut butter on first. When adding your birdseed, pat it into the peanut butter to help it stick. You can then tie your hanging strings all together and put it outside.

Birdseed Ornaments

Homemade little birdseed Christmas ornaments.
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To create your own decorative birdseed ornaments you will be using the birdseed and gelatin recipe from the above All-Natural Apple Bird Feeder (2 packages of unflavored gelatin powder, 2/3 cup of hot water, and 2 cups of birdseed). Choose a variety of basic metal cookie cutters in your choice of shapes and spray them with cooking spray to prevent your birdseed ornaments from sticking. Spoon your birdseed mixture into the cookie cutters, packing it in as tightly as possible to create a solid ornament. Taking a plastic straw, press it into your ornament near the top to create a hole for hanging. Make sure that it’s far enough away from the edges for your ornaments to still have the strength to hang properly. When they have set fully, carefully remove them from the cookie cutters, add your string or twine, and hang them from your trees for a fun display that the birds will love.

Homemade Gourd Bird Feeder

pumpkin Bird Feeder
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Do you have a collection of small gourds and pumpkins leftover from Thanksgiving? If so, you can repurpose these all-natural decorations by making eco-friendly bird feeders. To begin, cut each of your gourds directly in half before scooping out any flesh or seeds that they contain. While some options will be edible, there are some ornamental gourds that are not and can even cause Toxic Squash Syndrome. Make sure that you know what you have available before making plans to incorporate any of the flesh that you’ve removed into your cooking or baking plans.

Taking 2 wooden skewers, poke them through the sides of the gourd so that they cross through the center and come out on the other side. This will create a cross in the center of the pumpkin with a portion of each skewer hanging out to be used as a perch. If your skewers have a sharp point on either end (or both) you can simply cut them off after the skewers are in place. Take a piece of twine and tie it to one of the skewers right up against the gourd before crossing it over and tying the other end to the other side of the same skewer. This will create a large loop for hanging. Do the same with a second piece on the other skewer. At the top, where these two loops of twine cross, tie a third piece that will be used for hanging.

Dried Apple Bird Feeder

Dried apple slices
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Most bird feeders focus solely on the use of birdseed for food, but there are other options available that will appeal to a variety of bird species. Many birds are highly attracted to fruit feeders, making the use of fruit (fresh or dry) a great choice. For this feeder, you will need to cut and dry several apple slices to form the base of your feeder. Taking a thick gauge floral wire, bend one end into a loop for hanging, with a long vertical piece extending down from the loop. One at a time spread a little peanut butter on a slice of apple before dipping it, peanut butter down, into a bowl of birdseed. Then, slide the apple slice onto the feeder by piercing the wire through the center and sliding it up the wire to the top near the hanging loop. Continue this process until you’re happy with the length of your feeder, bending the bottom of the wire to hold the apple slices in place. You can add a ribbon to the top and/or bottom of the feeder if you choose for decoration before hanging it outside.

Edible String Bird Feeder

Stringing Popcorn & Cranberry Strings
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Often used as a holiday decoration, this beautiful string of popcorn and cranberries doesn’t have to be restricted to Christmas. In fact, it can be hung from the nearby trees in your yard at any point during the cold months of winter to provide your feathered friends (and other companions) with an extra food source. The process of making this garland is easy. All you need to do is to string different foods like cranberries, popcorn, and dried orange slices using a piece of yarn or ribbon and a large eye needle. Avoid using thin or hard-to-see strings like thread, fishing line, or dental floss as they can pose a tangling risk for wildlife after the food has been eaten off any portion of the garland.

Birdseed Bells with a Flowerpot Mold

Homemade birdseed dumplings
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Birdseed bells have long been a fun option that can be purchased at nearly any garden center or big-box store. If you’re looking to feed your backyard birds and save a little money, you can make your own birdseed bells at home using a clay flowerpot as a mold. You will need a 4.3” flowerpot, a 24” length of string or twine, a large washer, wax paper, and your birdseed mixture. You will use the same birdseed mixture used above in the All-Natural Apple Bird Feeder. Dissolve 2 packages of unflavored gelatin powder into 2/3 cup of hot water. When it’s fully dissolved, add 2 cups of your birdseed of choice stirring it until the birdseed is completely coated.

Line your flowerpot with wax paper, trying to get the paper to sit as flat as possible. Don’t be concerned with slight wrinkles as that will not be visible in the finished project, but any large bumps or gaps should be smoothed out. Using a pen, poke a hole in the wax paper through the base of the flowerpot where the drainage hole sits. Feed your yarn or twine through the hole, leaving a 3-4” loop hanging below the pot with the rest extending up through the pot and out the top. Carefully spoon your mixture into the pot around the yarn, packing the birdseed in as much as possible until the flowerpot is filled.

Place your filled flowerpot in the freezer overnight. The next morning, feed the string at the bottom of your birdseed bell through the washer a couple of times to secure it against the base of the seed. Tie a few tight knots to keep it in place. You can then carefully remove the birdseed bell from the flowerpot and hang it out for your backyard birds to enjoy.

Milk Jug Bird Feeder

Milk Jugs
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For those that love the environmentally friendly choice of making upcycled bird feeders, a simple milk jug bird feeder is a great option. To make this simple feeder, you will need an empty milk jug, twine or string, twigs, and birdseed. Cut a large square hole close to the bottom of your milk jug on one side. This will provide your birds with access to the birdseed inside. Just below this hole, in the center, cut a small hole large enough to slip a thick twig in place securely to use as a perch. You can secure this stick using hot glue along the bottom of the jug or around the inside of the hole. Make two small slits at the top of the jug, on each side of the lid. Feed your twine or string through these holes, typing them above to make a hanging loop. You’re now ready to fill your feeder and hang it up.

Homemade Wine Bottle Bird Feeder

Wine bottle bird feeder.
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Unlike many of the options on this list, this Homemade Wine Bottle Bird Feeder isn’t quite as simple to assemble. However, the finished result is one that will impress your friends and family. If you enjoy woodworking, this is a great choice for you to tap into that creativity. You will need your choice of wood (we recommend cedar), wire mesh screening for drainage, and an empty (and cleaned) wine bottle.

To begin, you will need to cut out all the pieces necessary for your bird feeder including a rectangular base large enough to contain the wine bottle, a bracket system to hold the bottle in place, a base to hold the birdseed, and a roof. An example set of plans can be found courtesy of Suncatcher Studio. Sand your pieces of wood down to make sure they are ready to be put together. Assemble your bird feeder using a combination of wood glue and screws, ensuring that every piece is securely in place and capable of supporting the weight of the feeder when it’s full.

Drill small holes in the base of the feeder to allow for proper drainage. To prevent the seed from falling through the holes, place a small piece of wire mesh screening along the bottom of the tray. You are now ready to paint or stain your feeder before mounting your feeder on a tree trunk, exterior wall, or wooden mounting post.

Bundt Pan Bird Feeder

Bundt Cake Pan
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One of the easiest DIY bird feeder options on this list, you can repurpose a bundt pan or angel food cake pan quickly and easily into a bird feeder with nothing but the pan, a tennis ball, and some twine. Wrap the twine around the tennis ball, tying knots to secure it in place. You want to ensure that the tennis ball isn’t going anywhere while still leaving two long ends that meet at a single spot. Feed the ends of the twine through the center hole of the bundt pan and tie them to create a hanging loop before stringing your new feed up from a tree branch. Fill your new bird feeder using birdseed, fruit, or suet, but you will want to pay attention to how balanced the pan is as it starts to get low.

Tin Can Bird Feeders

bird feeders
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For those that are trying to feed a larger number of birds, you may want to create a bird feeder with more available perches and areas for the birds to eat. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a larger feeder board using empty tin cans from soups or canned vegetables. Clean your cans out fully, making sure that they are completely dry, then spray paint them in your colors of choice. You can paint all your cans a single color for a simple color palette or mix it up to add a little fun.

Attach your tin cans to a wooden base using a strong adhesive, screws, or a combination of the two. You want to spread them out enough that multiple birds can be fed at the same time while still maximizing the space that you have available. Glue a twig or wooden dowel on the bottom of each can, extending from inside the can out a couple of inches to serve as a perch. To keep the seed from falling out, cut down a wide craft stick to the width of the can and place it across the front resting on the perch. You are then ready to fill your bird feeders with your birdseed of choice.

Cup and Saucer Bird Feeder

Tea Cup Bird Feeder
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Are you looking to add a prettier, more decorative bird feeder to your yard this winter? If so, why not repurpose a delicate cup and saucer to make your own pretty teacup bird feeder? All you need is an old cup and saucer set (either one that you already own or pick one up at a local thrift shop), a strong adhesive like E6000, and a piece of ribbon to hang your feeder.

Add some adhesive to the edge of your saucer and place your teacup into the glue on its side so that the opening of the cup rests close to the center of the saucer and the handle of the cup is pointed straight up. Don’t slack on the amount of adhesive you use as this will determine whether your feeder can stand up to the test of time without being damaged! After allowing the adhesive to fully dry, tie a ribbon through the cup handle and your feeder is ready to hang outdoors. To fill your feeder, simply add birdseed inside the teacup and onto the saucer. The birds will perch on the saucer while enjoying their meal.

Easy Milk Carton Bird Feeder

Carton Bird Feeder
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This is another incredibly easy bird feeder idea that your children will love to decorate. All you need is an empty milk carton (fully cleaned and allowed to dry), a wooden dowel approximately twice as long as your carton is wide, and a length of light-gauge wire or string. Cut a square-shaped hole in your milk carton approximately 1/3 of the way up the carton on two opposite sides, large enough for your birds to access the birdseed inside. Just below these holes, make a small hole large enough to feed your wooden dowel through, creating a perch on each side.  Near the top of the carton, just below the fold of the carton, pierce two small holes on the opposite sides of the carton from the perches. Feed your wire or string through these holes and create a large loop for hanging your feeder. It’s now ready for your children to decorate and hang outdoors.

Wire Fruit Bird Feeder

Recycled Wire Fruit Basket with Mandarins
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Many birds enjoy a diet that includes fresh fruit, so you may be looking to add a DIY fruit bird feeder to your collection this winter. This wire feeder is arguably the easiest fruit feeder you will ever create, and yet it works amazingly well! Take two long lengths of light-gauge wire and twist them up on one another, creating a slightly thicker wire. This is where you can get a little creative, choosing colored wires and experimenting with different color combinations.

Starting at the bottom of your feeder, start to curl your ribbon in a spiral pattern, begin with a very small loop, and slowly get larger to create a cone shape. As you get near the end of the wire, start to make the loops a little smaller once again bringing the top in before making a loop to hang your feeder. These simple feeders will hold any combination of larger fruit pieces including bananas, apples, and citrus fruit.

Rustic Branch Suet Feeder

Mockingbird on Suet Feeder
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We already looked at a branch-style suet feeder that involved spooning your suet into small holes in the branch, but what if you are looking to use a formed suet cake? This feeder not only looks attractive hanging outside with its rustic aesthetic, but it is also budget-friendly, largely made from items that you have sitting around in your backyard. To begin, you will need to gather your supplies. Look for 1 larger branch for the base, two smaller branches for the sides, and 6-8 smaller sticks to create the suet cage. In addition to your branch/stick collection, you will need two small eye-shaped screws and a length of string or wire.

Cut your largest branch to the desired width of your feeder. This will need to be a little wider than your suet cake to allow you to mount the sides of the feeder. Cut your two smaller branches to the desired height of your feeder and attach them to the sides of the large branch either with a strong adhesive or using screws. Finally, split your smaller sticks into two piles and attach them to the two side branches, creating a cage on the front and back of the feeder so that you can slide your suet cake into the feeder from the top. To hang your feeder, screw the eye-shaped screws into the top of each of the smaller side branches and create a loop by feeding wire or string through them.