Below you will find detailed free bird feeder plans for a hopper-style
feeder that we designed and currently use in our backyard year-round. These are fairly
easy bird feeder plans for first-time builders, yet is very attractive,
especially to the birds!
Solid Roof, Screen Tray, Large Hopper, Wooden Bird Feeder Plans
design will create a large birdfeeder and will easily hold a gallon of
bird seed. It accommodates small and large visitors with inner and outer
perching areas, is easy to refill and keeps the bird seed dry. We tried to make these plans as simple as possible and
for the feeder to
be built cheaply. You could always fancy it up, but save your money on
fancy extras 'cause the birds don't care and instead spend it on better seed!
Features of this Homemade Bird Feeder:
Sealed overhang roof, not hinged which prevents bird seed from getting wet
The mesh tray at bottom of hopper allows for air circulation and keeps bird
Large bird feeder holds up to 1 gallon of bird seed in see-thru hopper
Can be made cheaply with scraps of wood and/or cedar fence pickets
Simple plans for beginner bird feeder builders
One reviewer suggested that the feeder should be called the Extra Large
Hopper Feeder or even the MOAB feeder (Mother of all Bird Feeders). It doesn't
look that big to me, but four doves can feed at the same time with four more
standing on top waiting their turn.
Problems with Bird Seed Getting Wet
One of the main problems we have found with most hopper type bird feeders, is
that the bird seed can get wet in the tray and also at the base of the hopper
where the seed is supposed to spill out. This causes the seed to swell and
block the opening and the bird seed starts to sprout, ferment and mold.
We're trying to attract and feed birds, not to make beer out of bird seed.
This would seem to be an easy fix by simply increasing the size of the
overhang of the roof. Problem is, as you increase the overhang it becomes
difficult to see the birds at the feeder. So we are also looking for
the right balance between the height of the bird feeder and the amount of
overhang of the roof. We purposely designed the overhang to protect the
seed tray, but to allow water to drip on the perches so the rain helps keep
This plan also uses a new idea to help keep the bird seed and the tray dry. Instead of using a solid wood or plywood bottom to
the tray, we use fiberglass screen material (just like the screens on your doors and windows).
Sealed Roof Design
The second main problem with most hopper bird feeder designs is that the
hinged roof used to fill the hopper with bird seed tends to leak. Unless
you live in the desert, this will just create a big mess and waste bird seed.
So this plan is for a solid removable roof. I think the roof is heavy
enough to stay in place without any attachments, but it would be simple to hold
with a single screw or to drill a hole and attach with
bolts or a latch.
Easy Bird Feeder Plans
Here is the basic layout and basic instruction for the Large hopper bird feeder. Detailed instructions,
material list and exact dimensions follow below.
I have tried to keep the design and instructions simple and have assumed that you don't have
much carpentry experience and don't have many tools. I have also taken
pictures in order to simply the process (a picture is worth a thousand words). I estimate that it would take a beginner
between 2 to 4 hours to make the cuts and assemble the bird feeder (not counting
time looking at plans etc).
Ok, so it probably won't be perfect on your first try, but at least you
tried. And if somebody doesn't like it... Tell them to go kiss a bird's cloaca!
So let's get started on this build a bird feeder project.
Note: A visitor amended our plans slightly to make a beautiful extra-fancy version with a cedar-shingled roof,
copper lined roof cap and a hinged roof to make it easier for filling the feeder.
Materials List for Hopper Bird Feeder
I have found that cedar fence pickets are a cheap source of wood suitable for
outdoor uses like bird houses and bird feeders (especially makes good roof
material). They are 6 feet (72 inches) long X 5½ inches wide and 5/8th inch thick and cost
less than $2 each. I used fence pickets for the roofing material for the
bird feeder. I used pieces from a 1 X 8 pine board for the Hopper End
Pieces and two 1 X 2s for the tray framing, support for the screen and for the
The bird feeder can be made entirely with scraps of wood or siding that you already have lying around.
Chances are, if you
have scraps of wood lying around, you already have the know-how and the tools to
build a bird feeder. If not, see the materials list below.
1 1 X 8 at least 24 inches long (1 x 8 is really ¾ X 7¼)
1 cedar fence picket (5/8 X 5½ inches 6 feet long)
2 1 x 2 inch boards 8 feet long (1 x 2 is really ¾ X 1½)
Cuts from the 1 X 8 board
2 Hopper End Pieces from 1 X 8 (each 9 inches long)
2 Roof End Cap pieces (from 3 inch cut from 1 X 8)
Cuts from the fence picket
4 roof pieces from cedar fence picket (16 inches long)
Cuts from the 1 X 2 boards
2 frame End Rails from 1 X 2 (14 inches long)
2 frame Side Rails from 1 X 2 (12 inches long)
2 perches from 1 X 2 (12 inches long)
4 bottom screen support pieces from 1 X 2 (13½ inches long)
Screen material (14 X 16 inches - enough to cover 10 X 12 tray with some
Staples (For staple gun or small fence staples
Wood Screws (1¼ inch - Phillips head)
Tacks, brads or small finishing nails
Glass or plexi-glass
This plan is also designed to use glass or plexi-glass (polycarbonate
sheeting) so you can see how much bird seed is in the hopper, but you
could use a solid materials like masonite or thin plywood for the hopper sides if you prefer.
2 pieces (7 - 7½ inches X 11¼ inches)
Tools needed to Build The Hopper Bird Feeder
Ruler or Tape measure and straight edge, square or speed square
Saw (hand saw or power circular saw)
Phillips Screw Driver or power driver with Phillips bit
Glass cutter if using glass or utility knife and new blade for plexi-glass
That's all you need to get started.
If you have these additional tools, by all means use them to make job easier
Table saw or sliding chop saw - for all square cuts and to miter cut roof caps and to make kerf
cuts - safer and better cuts than with circular saw.
Clamps - to help hold parts when you need more hands
Staple gun - to attach screen to frame.
Brad gun - make easy work of attaching all parts.
Router and round-over bit - to round top parts of frame and perches for
finished look (for people - birds don't care).
Full disclosure: I used a chop saw for making the square cuts, a circular saw and clamps for
the miter and kerf cuts and a staple gun to attach the screen.
A Note of Caution about Making the Kerf Cuts
Be very careful. If you don't feel confident with making the kerf cut, the
glass or plexi-glas could be mounted on the outside with sealant and large
pan-head type screws to help secure it in place. The glass will be mounted permanently instead of
being removable, but better to be safe than sorry. It's not that important, we are
just trying to feed birds, not solve the World's problems.
Directions for making the cuts for the Bird Feeder Pieces
We have a lot of photos, but couldn't place them all here because it makes the
page load too slow, so instead they are referred to via the blue links. Just
click to view the image related to the particular directions.
The measurements of the End Caps are not critical,
but the angle on the top of the End Caps is critical.
The end caps are cut to the same angle as the end pieces, which
determine the angle of the roof. The end caps fit under and are
attached to the roof. The roof section (with end caps attached) then
slides down over and sits on the end pieces. The weight of the roof
holds the roof in place unless it is very windy, then the roof is held
in place with a screw.
Cut a 3 inch section from the 1 x 8 board, then
cut that piece in half. These two, 3 x 3 5/8 inch pieces will be the
Lay a previously cut Hopper End Piece on top of
a piece that was just cut
Center and Mark the Top Angles of the Hopper
End Piece onto both End Cap Pieces as shown
After cutting the "shoulders" off the End Caps,
Mark a 90° cut and make the cut as shown
3. Mark and square cut the 4 roof pieces (from
cedar fence picket) - each 16 inches long.
Note: If you have the tools and ability to
miter cut the roof crown, the exact angle is 28.89 degrees. I
could only set the angle of my saw to just under 30 degrees.
If not making the bevel cut, you should fill the gap with exterior or
silicon caulk later.
4. Mark and square cut the framing pieces (from 1
X 2) as indicated below
2 frame End Rails 14 inches
2 frame Side Rails 12 inches
2 perches 12 inches
4 bottom frame and screen support pieces 13½ inches
Mark the new outside edges of both Hopper End Pieces ½ to 1 inch from the outside
and mark straight lines down both sides of both Hopper End Pieces.
Cut grooves on these marks about half way through (3/8 in for 3/4 inch board) - the grooves only need to be the thickness of your
glass or plexi-glass panels - saw blade is probably thick enough.
Note* There are several different ways to control seed flow from the seed hopper into
the feeding tray - small seeds need only small gaps - be careful not to create gaps or
notches too large so too much seed spills out. Can always make a notch
or gap bigger, but if the plexi-glass is cut, you can't make is smaller again.
Option 1 - Create a gap (about ½ inch) between the tray and bottom of glass panel
Stop the kerf cut about ½ inch short
Fill the bottom ½ inch the kerf with wood putty
Fill the bottom ½ inch the kerf with wood glue and sawdust
Make a stop with small nail or screw inserted into the kerf
Option 2 - If using plexi-glass, notches or archways can be cut to let the seed spill out.
small hole first to prevent plexi-glass from splitting. Then score with utility knife until it breaks.
The Roof End Caps serve two purposes. First to
serve as base to glue and tack the roof pieces together and second to
fit snugly over the two Hopper End Pieces that make up the hopper. So
measure the spacing carefully so the roof will fit over the 12 inch
inside space of the hopper.
Glue and tack both End Caps to one roof section
with small nails or brads View
Diagram (end view)
If they don't fit well at first, try a different fits by turning the
down, backwards and reverse sides. If the glass or plexi-glass is too
large, glass would have to be re-cut, but plexi-glass could be filed or sanded.
Before cutting, you might only need to slightly widen or deepen the kerf cut.
5. Attach Roof
Simply set the roof on top of the two Hopper End Pieces to cover the hopper.
If you live in a windy area, you might want to fasten the roof with a screw, pin, bolt or latches
on each side.
That's it. Now it wouldn't hurt to protect the bird feeder with some paint or polyurethane to help it last longer,
but I plan to leave mine au natural, especially the cedar roof.
Now all you need to do is decide where you want to put it and how your going to put it there,
then fill it up with bird seed and sit back and watch the birds. Now that is
Bird Watching Bliss!
So far we have used only
oil sunflower seeds to attract bird species such as finches, chickadees,
pine siskins and grosbeaks. It has kept the nuisance birds like house sparrows
and starlings out and there has been little waste if any.
If you haven't heard this old saying, then it's time you did.
Measure twice and cut once. If you ignore this advice and measure once, sooner or
later you will have to cut twice. And sometimes there is no cutting twice as the board is ruined. So take your time. When in doubt? Measure again!
If you are not experienced using a power saw, be very careful. Losing a fingers is not one of today's
goals. You don't want to have to have explain to everyone the rest of your
life how you hacked off your finger, though it might make a good story. If
you are under 18, use a hand saw.
Practice some cuts on scrap wood until
you learn how to make the saw blade follow your marks and which side of the mark the blade actually cuts,
especially if you attempt the bevel cut for the roof. For longer cuts, try clamping another board or level to use as a guide.
If new at using a hand saw, go slow and easy. We know you are strong, but don't force the saw with those monster power strokes. When you apply
too much force, the blade tends to twist. The cut starts to bend and the blade gets pinched in the wood. Remember, we are supposed to be having fun
and lowering our blood pressure, so smile and slow down.
To Attach Birdfeeder on top of Post or Deck Rail
If you simply want to attach your new birdfeeder to a post or to your deck,
the floor of the feeder can simply be screwed into the top of the post. A PVC
pipe placed around a post will help keep the squirrels away. I don't have
problems with squirrels, so I didn't use pvc pipe, but did make a
simple post attachment made from pieces of 2x4 that fit snuggly to the post. Then I drilled a hole through the
post and both sides of the 2x4s and fastened with a bolt.
Temporarily Attach Birdfeeder to Post or Deck Rail
If you want to temporarily place the bird feeder somewhere to see how you and the birds like it, you can clamp it to a post or deck rail with "C-clamps".
Hang Bird Feeder from a post or tree
If you want to hang the bird feeder, the simplest way might be to place an eye bolt through each End piece of the hopper. Remember the Roof overhangs the ends
by 2 inches on each side, so the eye bolts need to extend at least 2½ inches, plus the thickness of the wood, plus at least enough on the inside for a nut to grab the bolt,
so that means you need two 2¾ inch or 3 inch eye bolts. Drill holes for the eyebolts, insert each eyebolt with a nut and washer inside and outside of the bird feeder. Attach
a chain or rope to the eye in each bolt and hang. But remember that you
would have to undo both eyebolts each time to refill the hopper.
Alternate Ideas for Hopper Birdfeeder
The floor of the hopper could be made of aluminum screening or punched or expanded
copper or aluminum (if holes were small enough) instead of screening or wood
Metal flashing (inverted "V" shape) could be used to cover the hopper floor - to help seeds flow out easier and also help to keep seeds dry
Perches could be made from two ½ inch diameter wooden dowels - Simply drill ½ inch hole in each end of the End Rails, slide in the dowels and glue into place.
We received feedback from Troy, who claims the dowels reduce the number of
squirrels and house sparrows.
You could add some extended perches so more birds have places to perch, or
so that larger birds like doves will have a larger "landing strip".
As we build more, we will be adding more plans for bird feeders in the
future. If you build this feeder, let us know and show it off here! We would be
happy to post your photos, design alterations, etc.. and share with other
prospective bird feeder woodworkers.
There has been controversy as to whether or not bird feeding
is beneficial to birds. If you enjoy attracting birds to your backyard and
love watching and learning about them, then it doesn't matter...But take the
below precautions for the birds' welfare.
Bird have feeding preferences for food as well as for how they
feed. Some are ground feeders while others will feed from perches. So think about the birds first, then choose your feeder.
And just as important, don't forget to fill your feeder with
the kind of bird
food that your birds desire. If they don't like what's on the
menu, they'll move onto the next restaurant!
Here is a simple hopper bird feeder design with step by step instructions:
We have also found some great books that contains lots of easy plans for bird
feeders as well as more elaborate, decorative style plans. We especially like
the books that contain plans for feeders, houses, shelters and bird baths all in one and relatively cheap. Here are a few of the favorites:
Remember, you do have an
ethical obligation not to jeopardize wild birds with your feeders. Follow the precaution links
below in order to provide a safe feeding environment for your birds:
Here are some great
free bird feeder plans you can make at
home. Make it a family project and get everyone involved. Make sure
everyone is aware of caring for the feeder (cleaning and filling)
which translates to caring for the birds.
And most of all, enjoy learning about the birds
that come to your feeders and create your own
Just as there are many different kinds of birds, there are many different
kinds of feeders such as platform, tube and hopper. It all depends on which birds you
wish to attract. Here are some more plans to take a look at for different