• Jessica Evans

Building a birdfeeder

South Africa has a wealth of birdlife. You might want to attract some to your garden for your own personalised ecosystem. You can attract seed-eaters like Mossies, Red Bishops and Weavers by upcycling a plastic bottle into a bird feeder for seed-eating birds.

But to attract fruit-eaters like barbets, thrushes, go-away birds, and Southern Boubous you’ll need a more steady platform on which to put fruit.

Here’s how you can build your own wooden bird birdfeeder! It’s a fun and easy day-long activity for wood-working novices and its relatively affordable. So why not keep yourself and someone you love entertained this weekend and build a bird feeder together?

What you’ll need:

- 65 cm (length) of 9,5 cm (width) wood, thickness variable

- 137 cm (length) of 4 cm (width) wood, thickness variable

- 134 cm (length) of 2 cm (width) by 2 cm (thickness)

- Tape measure

- Pencil and ruler

- A saw

- Wood glue

- A hammer

- Timber nails (they’re thin). Alternatively, drill pilot holes and use screws.

- Sandpaper (optional)

- Varnish and a paint brush

How to do it:

1. Cut your wood to the right lengths. You have flexibility here but be sure you have enough wood for the design you want. Use a tape measure and pencil to accurately measure the lengths you want and mark the lines you wish to cut through.

For a large bird feeder like this, cut the 65 cm of 9,5 cm width into 4 lengths of 35 cm and 2 of 30 cm.

Cut the 137 cm of 4 cm width into 1 piece 35 cm long and 2 pieces 30 cm each, and 2 pieces 21 cm each.

Cut the 2 x 2 cm wood into 2 pieces of 30 cm length and 4 pieces 18,5 cm long.

2. Now you have all the pieces you need. You can start on the base! Use wood glue to join the two 30 x 9,5 cm pieces. This will give you a plank of 19 x 30 cm. At this point you can also glue the 30 x 4 cm pieces along the long edges, giving them a lip that goes upwards from the work surface.

Do the same for the 21 x 4 cm pieces against the short edges.Once this is dry and stable, nail the sides together.

For the long edges, use 3 nails along the length of the lip. For the short edges use 1 nail for each plank. Now the base is done!

3. For the roof, glue 2 pieces of the 35 cm lengths together and repeat so that you have 2 planks of 19 x 35 cm.

Cut angles into the tips of the 18,5 cm pieces so that they can fit together and give you the angle for the roof.

Then nail them together through the corner. A vice is helpful for this.

Next, glue these onto the edges of each 19 x 35 cm plank. Now you’ve got the shape of the roof.

4. Place the corners you sawed off of the roof struts into the groove of the roof. Nail them to the roof planks. One nail should do for each, just pick a side of the roof you’d like to nail the corner to.

5. Place the 35 x 4 cm piece along the length of the roof in the middle above the corners you’ve just nailed in. Nail this piece into those corners. Now the roof is done!

6. Nail the 2 x 2 x 30 cm pillars to the inside edges of the roof. This is quite tricky because there’s very little room with which to work.

Use 2 nails on each pillar so that they don’t swivel.

Repeat this on the base by nailing the pillars to the outside lip.

7. You have a bird feeder! Now all you need to do is attach a mechanism for hanging it in a tree. You could drill holes in the pillars near the roof and fit twine, rope or wire through them to make a loop. Or you could put nails on the pillars near the roof but not all the way through the wood. This way, you can tie rope or twine around the nails and make a loop.

8. All that’s left to do now is ad some varnish to prevent rot.

Once that’s done, you have a bird feeder to hang in a tree in your garden. Place any fruit, rotting fruit or bread on the feeder and watch a suite of birds flock to your garden. Enjoy!

Hey! If the bird feeder doesn't work out you always have a cute holder for dog toys, right?


- Nails can be quite rickety, especially if you’re a beginner at wood-working! We used them for this bird feeder because they are ideal if you don't have access to power tools.

- You can reinforce the joints with wood glue.

- Don’t fret if it’s not perfect! Its home made and it serves its purpose – that’s all that matters!

Remember to tag us on Instagram @bitesized_sci if you recreate this!

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©2018 by Bite-sized Sci | Jessica Evans