How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder
The size of plastic bottle you use should match the amount of hummingbirds in your garden. The birds should be able to empty the bottle in two or three days, or the sugar mixture will begin to harbor too much bacteria.
Wash and scrub the hummingbird feeder between refills to make sure it stays clean and free of harmful bacteria.
You can attract hummingbirds to your yard or garden by making your own feeder with repurposed materials and string. Store-bought feeders often have interesting shapes and are convenient to hang, but it's only the red color that attracts the hummingbirds, not a decorative, molded shape. The simplicity of a homemade hummingbird feeder gives you flexibility so you can design a feeder in the right size and shape for your garden -- and they can be made cheaply enough that you can hang several feeders to provide plenty of nectar for these territorial little birds.
Repurposed Plastic Bottle Feeder
Use the cap from the plastic water or soda bottle to trace a circle in the center of the lid of your plastic tub.
Use scissors or a knife to cut a hole in the lid of the plastic tub, staying on the inside of the traced circle. The hole should be large enough for the mouth of the bottle to push through, but small enough that screwing the lid back onto the bottle will trap the lid of the tub in place.
Use the hole punch to make four equally spaced holes in the tub lid, about a third of the distance from the edge to the large hole. These holes will be the feeding ports for the hummingbirds.
Hammer a nail through the center of the plastic bottle cap in several places to create holes. This can also be done with a drill. These holes will allow the hummingbird food to drip from the plastic bottle into the plastic tub, where the birds can reach it. When the level of liquid in the tub reaches the cap, a vacuum seal is formed and the liquid stops flowing. When the liquid drops due to evaporation or feeding, the seal is broken and liquid flows from the bottle to replace it.
Assemble the hummingbird feeder by pushing the mouth of the plastic bottle through the large hole in the tub lid. Screw on the cap, and then snap the tub into its lid. Invert the feeder so the tub is on the bottom and the bottle is upside down on top.
Wrap string or small gauge wire securely around the plastic bottle, and then use another length of string to connect this band around the bottle to a tree branch or wherever you want to hang your new hummingbird feeder.
Paint the tub red, at the very least highlighting the feeder holes in red, to attract hummingbirds to the feeder. You can use other decorations to make the plastic tub look more attractive, but only red is necessary to attract the birds.
Simple Tub Feeder
Punch four holes into the lid of a shallow plastic tub or small glass jar a third of the way toward the center from one edge to create feeder ports.
Decorate the tub and lid with red paint, and fill the tub with hummingbird food before closing.
Wrap several loops of string or wire around the tub feeder so you can tie it stably to a tree or other hanger. This version of the feeder is simple, but you will need to fill it more often because it doesn't have the plastic bottle as a reservoir for extra liquid.
Joshua Bush has been writing from Charlottesville, Va., since 2006, specializing in science and culture. He has authored several articles in peer-reviewed science journals in the field of tissue engineering. Bush holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University.