One of the best ways to enjoy wildlife in your backyard is to watch birds at a feeder. People enjoy bird feeding as a soothing source of natural beauty and entertainment, just outside their windows. In a world overwhelmed with technology, bird feeding provides a nice escape to unwind from daily stressors. For this reason, I created easy to follow plans on how to build a DIY Bird Feeder House for your backyard. It is very relaxing to hear the joyful chirping of wild birds all year round.
Time to Complete
Download Printable Plans in PDF
Tools for this project
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Cut Boards for the Roof
This bird feeder project doesn’t require much wood. You could build it from scrap pieces that you might have laying around or just buy one 1×12 board. All of the pieces for this project will fit on an 8 foot long 1×12.
Start by cutting the largest pieces first. Take 1×12 and cut two roof boards to 20″ in length using a miter saw. Then with a table saw, rip one side of the roof board to 30 degrees. Do this for both roof boards on the 20″ side. The ripped edges will be connected together, later on, to make the roof slope at 30 degrees.
Step 2 – Cut Boards for the Tray
Again take a 1×12 board and cut two more pieces to 16″ in length. Then using a table saw rip two pieces to 7″ in width and four pieces to 1 1/2″ in width. So you’ll end up with two 16” x 7” boards and four 16″ x 1 1/2″ boards. Since the bottom tray is not squared, two of the 16″ x 1 1/2″ boards need to be trimmed to 15 1/2″ x 1 1/2″.
The 16″ x 7″ pieces will be used for the bottom of the tray, and the smaller pieces will be used for the sides of the tray.
Step 3 – Trace Over the Templates and Cut Legs and Arch Pieces
Download the PDF and print out all sheets including 8 ½” x 11” templates. Cut these templates out with scissors. The PDF includes one template for the legs, one for the arches, and one for the thermoplastic sheets.
Take the remaining 1×12 board and place the leg template on the board and trace it with a pencil. You will need to trace the leg four times, see cut list for the best template orientation. Then take the arch template and trace over it two times.
Clamp the board to your workbench and using a jig saw cut out all the legs and arches.
Now that all of the wood pieces for this project are cut, use a random orbital sander to sand the boards.
Step 4 – Cut Thermoplastic Sheets for the Seed Holder
The main reason for the bird feeder is to attract the birds to the feeder, and then watch them eat the seeds. To attract the birds, the compartment that holds the seeds needs to be transparent. When birds see the food they are more likely to fly to the feeder and eat the seeds.
So to make the compartment transparent, use thermoplastic sheets made by Plaskolite. You could buy these at Home Depot or on Amazon. For this project, you’ll need two 14″ x 10″ and two 8″ x 10″ thermoplastic sheets that are 0.050″ thick.
Take two 14″ x 10″ thermoplastic sheets and cut both of them to 10″ x 13″ using a miter saw. Thermoplastic is made from a plastic polymer material and could be easily cut with a blade that is usually used for wood.
Now take the template for the thermoplastic and trace it on the 8″ x 10″ sheet using a sharpie. Again cut it with a miter saw.
Step 5 – Attach Thermoplastic Sheets to the Legs
Next, take a 1/8″ drill bit and drill pilot holes through the thermoplastic on the edges of the 10″ x 13″ sheets. The first pilot hole from the top should be at least 2″ down because the arch piece will be attached at that location. See picture.
It is important to pre-drill the pilot holes for each screw on the thermoplastic sheets, otherwise it will crack and you’ll waste the material (this happened to me).
Attach the thermoplastic sheet to the legs with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. Make sure to drive in the screws slowly and don’t overdo it. Thermoplastic is fragile and will easily crack. You should have a 1/2″ gap at the bottom for the seeds to fall out on the tray. Repeat the process to connect the second set of legs.
Pocket hole screws work very well for this application because they have a pan head as oppose to regular countersink wood screws.
Step 6 – Connect Both Leg Sets to Arches
Now both sets of legs need to be connected together with arches on the top. Take a 1/8″ drill bit and drill through the upper leg piece and the thermoplastic. Drilling a pilot hole will prevent the wood from splitting and thermoplastic from braking. Align the arch flush with the top of the leg and drive in a 2 1/2″ pocket hole screw. Repeat the process to connect both arches to the legs.
Step 7 – Insert and Attach Side Thermoplastic Sheet
Next, take the side thermoplastic piece that you cut in step 4 and drill four pilot holes as shown in the picture. Then insert the sheet inside the seed holder and attach it to the arch with 1/2″ screws. Use a screwdriver to drive in these screws. Since these screws are short, you don’t want to overdo it with a drill and break the thermoplastic.
These side thermoplastic sheets are held only by four screws on the top. The rest of the sheet will be held by seeds in the compartment and by pocket hole screws on the legs. You could add a block at the bottom to hold the thermoplastic sheet in place but I didn’t think it was necessary.
Step 8 – Drill Chimney Hole on the Roof Board
There are some bird feeders out there that have one side of the roof open to fill in the seed holder. But for this project, I decided to make a chimney from PVC pipe to use for filling up the seed compartment. The chimney pipe will have a cap to prevent rain from getting on the seeds.
Take a scrap 4×4 board and cut it at 30 degrees so that you could place it under the roof board. The scrap board will keep the roof board at the correct slope. Then take a 1 3/4 hole saw bit and drill a hole vertically down through the roof board. You could drill the chimney hole anywhere on the roof as long as it falls inside the seed compartment. Also, you don’t want to be too close to the ridge of the roof.
Step 9 – Install Chimney PVC Pipe
To keep the PVC pipe from falling through the hole, it needs to be clamped and glued together with two couplings.
Take two 1 1/4″ couplings and cut them at 30 degrees with a miter saw. Then cut one 1 1/4″ PVC piece to 3″ in length and one piece to 2″ in length.
First, using PVC primer and glue, attach the upper coupling to a 3″ long pipe. Then insert the pipe into the hole of the roof and glue the bottom coupling. The 2″ long pipe will go on top for the cap.
Step 10 – Cover Seed Holder with Roof Boards
Now the two roof boards need to be connected together. Apply wood glue on both of the roof boards at a 30-degree bevel cut. Then hold them together and nail the boards with 1 1/4″ brad nails.
Next, center the roof over the seed holder and trace around the legs and arch under the roof. Then remove the roof boards and drill pilot holes so that they land on the legs. Apply wood glue on the legs and arch and place the roof back on the seed holder at the pencil marks you made earlier. Secure the roof with screws through the pilot holes.
Step 11 – Cover Roof with Shingles
To make the roof look like a house I decided to add shingles. I have few door shims laying around in my garage so that gave me an idea to use them as shingles. You could buy these shims in a package at Home Depot.
The door shingles are typically 8″ long, so cut them in half with a miter saw. Then start from the bottom of the roof and place the 4″ pieces side by side and staple them with 1/2″ staples. These shims are about 1/4″ thick on one side and very thin on the other. You will need to alternate thin and thick shims to make it look better.
Step 12 – Attach Ridge Board on the Roof
You’ll need to cover the staples at the very top of the roof. Cut 1/4″ thick wood plank the length of the roof and nail on top of the roof ridge with 1 1/4″ brad nails.
Step 13 – Attach the Bottom Tray to the Bird Feeder House
Before attaching the bottom tray, apply a coat of polyurethane to seal the wood. You could also stain the wood before polyurethane. Once the stain and poly dries out attach the bottom tray. Then screw in four screw eye hooks on the sides of the roof. These eye hooks will be used for a string to hang the bird feeder onto the tree. You are done with a DIY Bird Feeder House.
Good Reasons to Have a Bird Feeder
Birds are magnificent. But building a bird-feeder can raise questions. Is it good to feed birds? Will a bird feeder help me in any way?
Bird-feeders can be controversial; however, if used responsibly, they will benefit the birds. These feeders can provide birds with needed energy during the migration and give added nutrients in the spring.
If you give the birds good food and keep the feeders clean, you don’t need to worry about the birds spreading disease among each other.
Let’s go over several benefits of having a bird feeder in your backyard.
Do Bird Feeders Harm Birds?
Wondering if your bird feeder is causing harm to the birds is a valid question. Indeed, if you don’t take care to feed birds responsibly, you can cause harm.
Here are several ways to make sure your feeder is good for the birds:
- Feed birds good fresh food
- Beware of windows
- Consider birds predators
Birds Need Fresh Food
You don’t want your birds ingesting any moldy, rotten food. For this reason, consider how fast the birds are eating their food.
If you don’t have many birds in your area, consider building a smaller feeder, so less bird feed goes to waste. If you notice the birds didn’t finish their food, change out the seed once a week to avoid harmful microbe build-up.
Finally, it’s best to feed your birds quality food. Most avid birders caution against giving wild birds table scraps and bread.
Set up Bird Feeder with Windows in Mind
We’ve all experienced hearing the thud of a bird striking the window. Sometimes the bird is okay—other times, they are not.
To be sure your bird is safe around windows, you should either place the bird feeder 30 feet from your window or within 3 feet of the window.
You can also place netting over your windows to prevent the birds from forcefully impacting the glass.
Help Birds Out with Predators
Don’t place the bird feeder next to bushes or within pouncing distance of any neighborhood cats.
Just be mindful of the birds’ predators. You want to place the feeder away from anything a predator could use as cover but close enough to some bushes, so the bird has an escape route if needed.
Now that we’ve discussed some ways bird feeders can actually help the birds let’s go over some ways bird feeders will help you.
Ways Bird Feeders Benefit Your Home and Yard
Yes, bird feeders can benefit the birds, but they also help you out. It turns out our flying friends have more to offer than their sweet songs.
Here are several ways bird feeders can help our lives:
- Insect control
- Weed control
- Relaxation and entertainment
Let’s go over these wonderful reasons to have a bird feeder.
Birds Can Help Control Insects
Do you have too many mosquitos around your home? A bird feeder might help.
Especially in the summer, birds like to chow on the creepy crawlies around your home. If you would rather smile at birds than swat at bugs, a bird feeder might help.
Many gardeners will purposefully attract birds to their area for help with pest control. This is a win-win-win. You get to hear the birds’ beautiful songs, have your garden cleaned, and enjoy the company of flying friends.
Birds Can Help With Pollination
Attracting birds with a bird feeder can also help pollinate all the lovely flowers around your yard.
This is yet another great bonus of running a responsible bird feeder.
Birds Can Help With Weed Control
Birds like to eat seeds. As it happens, many weeds are so common because they produce a ton of seeds.
Having a bird feeder can attract more birds. These birds will then eat the weed-causing seeds, thus reducing weeds altogether.
Birds are Relaxing and Entertaining to Watch
Having a bird feeder allows you to enjoy one of nature’s miracles – birds!
The birds’ sweet song will gently wake you in the morning, and their beautifully colored feathers will relax you in the evening.
Also, bird watching can be a great hobby that gets you outside, gives you something fun to teach your kids, and allows you to learn new things every day.