Home & Garden Home How to Create a Hummingbird Feeder Attract sweet hummingbirds to your yard with a custom-made feeder. By David M. Kuchta Writer Wesleyan University, University of California, Berkeley David Kuchta, Ph.D., is a historian, author, gardener, and educator. He has been an environmental activist since the 1970s. After 20 years teaching in academia, he has taught creative writing and been an editor and professional writer for the past seven years. our editorial process David M. Kuchta Updated June 24, 2021 Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home DIY Pest Control Natural Cleaning Family Green Living Thrift & Minimalism Sustainable Eating Overview Working Time: 1 hour Total Time: 1 day Yield: 1 Skill Level: Beginner Estimated Cost: $3.00 Hummingbirds can flap their wings 70 times per second, the fastest of any bird in the world. Watching a hummingbird feed at a feeder, flying in all different directions, sipping at nectar while hovering in place, is a true delight. But there's another, more serious, reason to feed hummingbirds. A 2019 survey of North American birds revealed losses of around 29% of birds since 1970. Hummingbirds are no exception: Of the more than 300 different hummingbird species, more than 10% are threatened with extinction. Climate change and habitat loss are the main culprits. Climate change has affected bird migration routes and timing; they arrive earlier in the north, often before their preferred foods have begun flowering and producing nectar. Or, they migrate further north to new feeding grounds, only to find that plants can't migrate as fast as birds. Building your own feeder can help hummingbirds adapt and survive in our changing world. Hummingbird feeders are relatively inexpensive to purchase, but creating your own feeder costs almost nothing, can be a great craft project to do with kids, and has the benefit of repurposing used plastic or glass rather than purchasing anything new. No packaging or fossil-fuel-consuming shipping are involved either. Here is one of the simplest designs. Before You Begin Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Find a good place for the feeder. It should be visible from your window, but not near any windows. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that nearly a billion birds are killed each year by collisions with windows. Your hummingbird feeder can also attract ants, which are best kept away from your house. Also, make sure your timing is right. Hummingbirds can be found all throughout the Americas, but almost all of them are migratory, so check online or with your local Audubon center for when hummingbirds will most likely be in your region. There's no sense in putting a feeder out before they arrive or after they're gone. If you live along the Pacific Coast of North America, you can feed non-migratory Anna's hummingbirds year-round. What You'll Need Tools 1 drill with ⅛ inch drill bit 1 ruler or tape measure Materials 1 straw or tube (sterilize it first in boiling water) 1 food-safe caulking/sealant 1 bottle with cap (sterilize it first in boiling water) 1 metal coat hanger 1 cup of hummingbird nectar Instructions Prepare Cap Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Remove the cap from the water bottle and drill a hole in the center of it with a ⅛” drill bit. Insert Straw Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Insert a straw or tube through the hole in the cap so that 4 inches remain on the inner side of the cap. Seal the Cap Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Use food-safe caulking/sealant to seal both sides of the cap, then let it dry. This could take up to a full day. Be careful not to add too much sealant on the inside of the cap, otherwise you'll have trouble screwing the cap back on to the bottle. Prepare Your Hanger Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Straighten out a metal coat hanger. (Snip off the top hook, if you prefer.) Make a small hook at one end of the hanger. Secure Hanger to Bottle Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Wrap the hanger around the middle of the water bottle and tighten it by twisting the hooked end around the rest of the hanger. Fill Bottle With Nectar Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Fill the bottle with hummingbird nectar (you can buy at your local pet shop or easily make your own), and tightly screw the cap back on. Find a home for your feeder Treehugger / Sanja Kostic Use the coat hanger to hang the feeder in your preferred spot and let the hummingbirds know dinner is served. Bird-Safe Materials Repurposing plastic is great, but unless you know your plastic water bottles are BPA-free, it's best to avoid using this material for your feeder. A sterilized glass bottle is preferable. You can also be creative with tubing to avoid using a plastic straw. Use instead food-safe metal tubing, a glass test tube, or an eye dropper. Plants That Hummingbirds Love Red hibiscus flower. Liang Zhao / EyeEm / Getty Images Surround your feeder with a hummingbird-friendly garden. Here are some widely available plants that attract hummingbirds. Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) Red hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) Bee balm (Monarda didyma) Sage (Salvia coccinea or S. greggii) Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile) Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) Maintaining Your Feeder Treehugger / Sanja Kostic With your feeder comes the responsibility of regularly cleaning it every two or three days. Sugar water can spoil and get moldy in two days in temperatures over 90 degrees F. If you notice the sugar water getting cloudy, it's time to empty the feeder and start afresh. Before each refilling, flush your feeder with hot water (no soap), and scrub it with a bottle brush. Once a month — or sooner, if you detect mold — fill the feeder with a 2% solution of bleach, or soak the entire feeder in one gallon of water with ¼ cup of bleach. After an hour, rinse well. Additional Options and Design Ideas Paint your water bottle with brightly colored, non-toxic paints, or cover it with child-friendly stickers. Skip the straw. Fill your plastic bottle with nectar and feed your hummingbirds straight from the bottle. You'll need a lot of patience, but you'll ultimately be delighted by the gentle breeze coming from a hummingbird's whirring wings.