Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DIY Simple soda bottle hummingbird feeder

this is a simple soda bottle feeder with a tiny hole in the cap, suspended by wire-it works incredibly well and is incredibly easy to make

Yup another hummingbird feeder post. Yikes, I know.  Apparently there are a lot of crazy people out there like me who like hummingbirds and unique feeders!  This one is as easy as they come, no flowers, no feeding tube, nothing special, but it is still a fun and unique way to attract and feed hummingbirds.  You will need a soda bottle with a twist on cap-preferably a bright yellow or red (if the cap isn't yellow or red, get some paint), you will also need a hammer, a nail and some wire.  I use baling wire as we have quite a bit around here.  You can get fancy and paint the wire if you like.  My little girl wanted to, so we did and she was right, I like it better.
First, clean out the cap and your bottle.  We liked the label on our bottle, so we left it alone and even sprayed a little clear enamel on it to keep the colors brighter longer.
Next, put the cap on your bottle and take a small nail, like the kind you might use in your house to hang a picture or the calendar, and hammer it through the center of the cap.  Remove the nail.

Grab your wire!  You will need quite a bit for this-I think I used about 30" or so.  Now it's time to bend it up.  I like to start with the two ends of your wire-take one and carefully wrap it around the largest part of the neck of your bottle one time.  Then take the other end and wrap it around the base of your bottle once-about an inch or two up from the bottom.  Now hold your bottle out in front of you sideways but with the cap end pointed slightly down.  Bend the center of your wire up to form a hook and hold your bottle at that angle.  You can design your hook to go on branch or a nail or whatever.  (I designed mine initially to hang over a small branch in the crabapple tree.)

Lastly, Fill the sucker up with nectar, screw the cap on tight and hang it!  (If you fill the bottle up all the way, so there isn't any air inside the bottle, it won't drip as much when you initially hang it.  I filled mine up half way so initially there was a whole lot of dripping going on as I hung it-not to worry, if your cap has a good seal and your angle isn't too severe, the dripping will quickly stop.)  The angle makes it perfect for the hummingbirds to drink virtually all the nectar without much waste.
There ya go!  It is a fun way to re-use, re-purpose or recycle your favorite drink bottle.  Hope you have as much fun making these as we did.

Friday, June 16, 2017

DIY suction cup window hummingbird feeders and hat-clip (hat-attached) feeders

This is one of my favorite suction-cup window feeders made from a tobasco bottle-the birds love it too!
This suction cup window feeder is a favorite around our house-it is made from clear, flexible tubing with cork stoppers on the ends and baling wire wrapped around for a perch.   The crystal clear tubing allows everyone to see every detail up close

Yes this is yet another hummingbird feeder post!  Sorry, but there has been a lot of response to my previous posts about how to make mason jar feeders and prescription bottle feeders, feeders that attach to your hat brim, feeders you hold in your hand and especially the feeders that suction cup onto your window, bringing the birds closer for curious viewers as well as those who are bed-ridden.   
Suction-cup prescription bottle bird feeder-refer to my earlier post about RX bottle feeders
As I mentioned in my post about prescription bottle hummingbird feeders, we recently had a member of the family diagnosed with a chronic illness that has provided us with lots of RX bottles and got me thinking about how to bring the hummingbirds closer so that someone on bed rest could see the birds right at their window without having to sit up or move to see the feeder out in the yard.  The answer came to me on a night when sleep wouldn't.  I started making the feeders by upcylcing the prescription bottles, but another idea tickled inside my head and I branched out using materials that I already had in the house.  These feeders work very well and are light-weight so that they can attach to your window easily.  They are made from recycled materials that are re-purposed, which I love.  Here are a few examples that I will show you how to make.
Here are three different types of suction cup window feeders and on the far right, a feeder that attaches to your hat!
Basically the idea is exactly the same as the prescription bottle suction cup window feeders and hat clip feeders for the top three feeders pictured.  The clear-tube feeder pictured on the bottom is a tiny bit different, but uses most of the same materials.
For all of these feeders you will need some cheap suction cups that are designed to hang items-they have little plastic hooks that you can remove easily, leaving a hole through the end of the suction cup that is perfect for your wire hook to go through for the top 3 feeders-for them, you will need to simply remove the plastic hook and you are ready to go.  For the clear tube feeder, don't remove the plastic hooks.

To make this simpler, I will first discuss how to make the bottle-style suction cup feeders and hat clip feeders.

Once you've got the hooks out of your suction cup hangers, you just need wire to wrap around the bottle of your choice.  I use baling wire because we have a lot of that around here.  Once you've wrapped your bottle, bend the wire hanger perpendicular to your bottle and about 4-6" away, snip the wire off and make a hook on the end.  Once you've made your hook, bend it up so that when you put the end of your wire hook through your suction cup hanger, it will hold the feeder at the correct angle.
Here is a good example of how to wrap the wire around any bottle and make the hook in the end of the wire so that when the hummingbird comes to the feeder you can see it drinking up close and get a full profile.

 I am hoping that these pictures show you how to bend your wire hook up-right so that when you stick your suction cup on the window, it holds your feeder out correctly.

To make the hole where the hummingbirds will drink you will need a small diameter nail just large enough for the hummingbird beak to fit thru.  You may also want a cloth or plastic flower for the end or some nail polish or paint to make a faux flower to attract the birds to the hole they need to drink from.  However, for the tobasco bottle, due to the fact that the cap was small and already a nice vibrant red, I didn't need to use any paint or nail polish or a fake flower of any kind to help the birds find the drinking hole.  (For my mason jar feeders, I usually make the flowers out of electrical tape-If that's more your style, see my post about mason jar hummingbird feeders.)  I simply used a lighter (a match would work fine, just use a glove as that lil' nail can get hot quickly) and heated up a small diameter nail, like the kind you might hang a calendar from in your home, then stuck the nail thru the center of the red cap. 
For bottles like the tobasco bottle, that is all you need.  Just fill it up with nectar, lick your suction cup, stick it to the window of your choice and hang up your feeder!  The weight of the feeder with the nectar will pull downward slightly on the suction cup, but use that to your favor and adjust the angle so that the end of the bottle with the drinky-hole is tilted slightly downward.
For the smaller test-tube shaped bottles, I used a slightly larger nail, punched through the top of the lid and stuck a dollar store cloth flower with a hollow, plastic tube-base through the hole.  (I had previously measured the diameter of the hollow plastic flower "stem" first and chose my nail accordingly.  I also checked to make sure that the inside of the hollow tube was large enough for hummingbirds' beaks.)  These work very well and are a lot of fun to experiment with!  I am trying to experiment with links, so if you like these, but would rather have me make them for you, click here and I will send one to you.
The hat clip feeder here has exactly the same steps as the prescription bottle hat clip feeder, but this one I made from one of my tiny tobasco bottles so no faux flower of any kind was necessary.  Wrap the wire around your bottle, stretch the end out several inches and then bend the end to attach onto your hat.  I will show the way to bend the wire in a picture below as that will make more sense than me describing it.
This is how you bend the wire so that it clips or attaches onto the brim of your hat.
  Once you've finished your bends, you will notice that it makes 3 prongs/loops.  Simply take the center loop and lift it slightly as you slide this onto the brim of your cap so that the center loop/prong is on top and the others are underneath. 

To finish, just heat up your small nail and stick it through the center of the plastic bottle cap, fill it with nectar, attach it to your ball cap brim and you go relax out on the porch in your favorite chair.  These are fun to make and experiment with.  Once again, if you would rather have me make one for you, click here.

Now for what is probably our most bizarre and unique feeder.  The "clear tube suction cup window feeder" has been awesome for our family to see these amazing birds drinking up close.  We can see their beaks insert, the bubbles they often blow into the feeder itself, etc.  If you like seeing these details right up close just outside your window, this is the feeder for you and I will show you how I made them.
First, I actually just happened to have some extra flexible, clear tubing about an inch in diameter lying around the house.  Once again, the idea to make it came to me on a night when I couldn't seem to get to sleep.  I remembered the tubing and thought it would be cool to make a hummingbird feeder our of it.  I got up the next day and set to work.  After trying several experimental ideas, I settled on the one you see below because frankly, the birds liked it the best and it didn't leak. 
For the sake of not taking up the entire window (and because some bedroom windows are not as large as others) I decided on cutting the tubing into about 7" lengths.  I dug out some of the corks we had in the craft box (honestly the hardest part of this whole project was finding two corks that fit into the ends of the tubing) as well as 2 tiny "I"-screws, pulled off another blossom from the dollar store faux flower bouquet, gathered up some baling wire, a lighter, a nail and two of the hanger-type suction cups and got to work.
I eye-balled the center of the tubing, heated my nail and made a drink hole large enough to stick the plastic base of the cloth flower blossom.  Next I screwed a tiny "I"screw into the top of each of my 2 little corks. 

I filled the tube with nectar, stuck the cork back in, took the two suction cup hangers with hooks outside, licked them and stuck them just wide enough to hold the "I"-screwed corks without pulling them out and I tried it out.  Honestly it worked ok, but not great until I decided to add the wire wrap for a perch.  As soon as I did, it was magic.

Because it is difficult for me to explain clearly, I am sticking another pic of the wire perch above.  As you can see, it isn't difficult to do at all. (As you can also see, we decided to paint the wire bright red which went nicely with the bright red flower bud.  Do whatever you like to make it fun.)

Of all my feeders around my house (and I'm gonna be honest, there are a lot) they keep hitting the clear tubing the most, much to the delight of my kids.  I liked the unique design and the closeness and crystal clear quality that allows for much more detailed viewing of these amazing little birds.  I hope you have as much enjoyment from them as we have.  If you would like one, but don't want to make one right this second, click here and I can make one for you!  Enjoy!

(Quick note: to fill these up, pull out one cork, put your finger over the drink hole and pour the nectar in, then replace your cork and you are ready to go!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DIY Antique Ice Tongs paper towel holder

I love functional antiques!  So when I was deciding on ways to dispense our ever-needed paper towels, I decided on some antique ice tongs.  Having found and purchased a pair of inexpensive ice tongs, there just remained the question of how to finish the dispenser.
     I gave it some thought for several days.  There are a lot of great ways to do something like this.  I could use a pvc pipe or a small metal pipe or a dowel or any number of materials.  I could use some spring loaded tubes or elastic bands to keep the dispenser tube in place, etc., etc.  After some consideration, I decided I wanted to keep the antique feel of old wood and metal.
   I hunted around and found several old, weathered and broken pieces of wooden handles that once belonged to shovels or pitchforks or rakes or something like that.
     I measured about an inch longer on each side of a regular tube of paper towels, selected my chunk of wood and with my chop saw, cut it to length.

When the antique ice tongs are suspended by their handle, they are designed to grip what is in the tongs.  I decided to give the tongs a little help by drilling in the ends of my wooden dispensor about a 1/2 inch or so.  I had a head start on this because one of the ends of my dispensor already had a drilled end.

instead of using a spring or an elastic band I decided to use the natural effect of the ice tongs to hold the wooden handle/dispensor.  

  I tried it out and everything worked great!  I wanted to seal the whole project up to protect it and to make it easy to wipe down and clean so i sprayed the entire thing with a clear enamel.  After it dried, I added two small nails to hang it, and it was finished!

DIY prescription bottle hummingbird feeders

     After a member of our family was diagnosed with a chronic illness, we found ourselves swimming in empty prescription bottles.  We decided to try to upcycle these bottles into something positive and useful... but what?  Well, due to my obsession with making hummingbird feeders, it was only a matter of time before we tried to make a feeder out of these bottles.  The results were amazing!  We made several different varieties out of the different sized bottles and we are going to share them with you now!
     We are also going to provide a link from this post (if I can figure it out) where you can simply purchase these feeders if you so desire and all proceeds will go toward more treatment and medical costs.
     To begin, get rid of the labels (unless you like them:). Peel off the sticker paper as best you can and then soak your bottle in water for a few hours.  Any stubborn sticker paper will rub right off at that point.  We found that some residual glue remained and if you are like us and don't like that, we found a way to get it off.   Run hot water (as hot as you can tolerate), over the bottle and rub downward, off the bottom.  Rubber gloves help save your fingers.  Then, finish prepping your bottle by washing the inside and out with hot soapy water.
     Now, decide which kind of feeder you want to make. While you can make any kind of feeder with any size that you like, we decided to make the  larger bottles into free swinging, more traditional-type feeders.

The smaller ones we made into suction cup feeders that bring the birds right up to your window.  These feeders come in very hand if you have someone on bed rest that needs to have the birds brought to them.  They also proved perfect for our curious little ones who wanted to watch every detail of the birds themselves and how the birds drank out of the feeder.

We also used the smaller bottles to make hat-clip feeders that attach to the brim of your ball cap or hand-held feeders that you do actually hold right in your hand for the birds to drink out of.  (To be honest, not many of us in our family are patient and still enough to get much use out of the hat-clip feeders or hand-held ones, but they are awesome just the same!)

Let's start with  the TRADITIONAL FEEDER:
     To begin you are going to need a large RX bottle, either and I-screw or some baling wire, and if you want some variations, some red or yellow nail polish, some red or yellow spray paint and possibly some cheap fake flowers.
     We  did a few different variations and found that the birds seemed to like our wire wrapped bottle with a perch the very best, but we will show you some other options too.
     1st, take a small nail, like the size you use inside the house for holding up picture frames or calendars, etc.  It needs to have a small diameter, just large enough for the hummingbird's beak.  Hold a match or a lighter to the nail (I would recommend using gloves to hold the nail as it can heat up in a hurry!) for about 15 seconds.  Then insert the nail into the side of the  bottle, just about a 1/4" up from the bottom base of the bottle.

     2nd, prepare to hang it!  Either use a small "I" screw and screw it in the top center of the lid  to provide a way to hang it (you can use wire or string to tie it up that way) or wrap it with wire, which also provides a perch for the hummingbirds-the wire wrap quickly became our favorite.  To wrap it with wire, take about 2- 2 1/2 feet of baling wire and make a small hook at one end (where it will hang from a branch or a feeder or a nail, etc), then about 6-8" down from the wire, wrap it around the pill bottle a few times tight under the cap and down the bottle.  From there you can continue the wrap away from the bottle about an 1 1/2"  distance away from the bottle and once you've completed a wide circle, either cut off the excess wire or bend the end around to make a non-sharp end.

     3rd, now that you have the bottle ready to hang and the hole made, it's time for any finishing touches.  We found that the birds found exactly where to drink quicker if we either painted an extremely simplified  flower around the hole (my little girl's bright red nail polish worked great-just four blobs of paint around the hole worked perfectly) or putting a cloth or plastic flower in or around the hole itself .  We had some cheap cloth flowers with a tube-like plastic base that pulled right off their plastic stems.  The only trouble was that their base was bigger than our original hole so we got a bigger nail and heated it and made a slightly bigger hole just large enough to accommodate the flowers.  (The inside tube of these flowers just happened to be the perfect size for hummingbirds to drink.)  We love the look of them and the birds love using them.

    You can also experiment with painting the bottle itself.  While we did experiment with painting the bottles, (some yellow, some red, etc) we didn't really like not being able to see the nectar levels and the birds beaks drinking.  We did like the effect of painting the lids, the flowers and the wire hanger a bright red!


   To begin you are going to need some baling wire, some cheap suction cup "hangers" that have removable hooks, a small nail and your prescription pill bottle.  If you want some variations you can use red or yellow nail polish, some red or yellow spray paint, and if you like, some fake flowers.
     First, as not all RX bottles and caps are created equal, fill each of the smaller bottles with water and then hold them upside down.  If it leaks like a sieve, it won't work for this type of feeder and you will need to use it for a hand-held feeder instead.  If it passes the test, take your small nail once again and heat it up.  Stick it through the top of the lid, but not in the very center, make your hole on one of the edges of the lid.   Repeat your water test!  After you fill up the bottle, put the lid with the hole in it back on and hold the bottle at about a 30 degree angle with the lid down.  If the dripping quickly stops, the bottle will work great.  If not, use it for a hand-held feeder.
insert heated nail off-center on the lid
     Second, take about 10-12" of baling wire and on one end make a small hook-this will attach thru the hole of the suction cup  after you have removed its plastic hanger-hook.  Then just below the hook you have made, bend the wire at a 45 degree angle as shown below.

 About 4-6" from the hook you just made, start wrapping the wire around the bottle.  After a couple wraps you can choose to leave the wire as is or if you have some extra wire-you can clip it off or make a perch that projects in front of the feeder.
wire wrapped around the bottle with no perch

extra wire bent into a "perch" and sharp end doubled over

If you make a perch, I like to bend the sharp end over on itself so that there are no sharp dangerous ends of the wire jutting out.  Now you should have a feeder that juts out away from the window a few inches and then turns and is parallel to the window for easy viewing.
     Third, we found that the birds can find the hole much easier if there is a flower, either painted simply with a few strokes of nail polish or a fake flower mounted on the hole.  We liked the fake flower option best and so we repeated the same process we used on the traditional-style feeder, but in the lid of the smaller bottle.  We also liked painting the cap, the flower and the wire holder a bright red (or yellow).  Any finishing touches, like painting the bottle are yours to decide.
     Your feeder is ready!  Lick the suction cup and stick it to the window of your choice, fill your bottle with nectar, hook it up to the suction cup and enjoy.

     The same rules apply for finding the correct RX bottle for this feeder as the Suction Cup Window feeder (see above).  I like small prescription bottles for this as they are attaching to the brim of your ball cap and something too heavy will pull your hat down over your eyes.
    Follow the same steps exactly as you did for the suction cup feeder, the only difference will be the wire wrap angle and end that attaches strait out from the brim of your hat instead of a hook going through a suction cup.  So now that you've got your bottle ready and your wire started, here's how to finish it.
I added a perch on this one.
     You can use whatever wire bends work for you to secure the end to your cap, but we really liked the look of this one.  As it is difficult to describe, I thought the pictures might be much better.
to attach it to your cap, just put the large central loop section on top of your brim and the other side sections below the brim.

Once you've got your bends ready, attach it to your cap and go sit out on the porch and relax for a minute.  You and your ball cap are now converted into a hummingbird feeder! 
     Lastly, THE HAND-HELD FEEDER!  After making the suction cup and the hat feeder, this one is a snap.  Follow the same steps, except for the water test and wire wrap.  As the feeder is simply held fairly up-right in your hand, it doesn't need a super tight fitting lid or any mechanism to hang it.  I do have to add tho, that if your RX bottle is tall or large, you may want to add some clean pebbles or marbles to the bottle so that the level of nectar is raised up to hummingbird beak accessibility.  (I like to have a bottle that I can hold onto in my hand, so I add marbles to my hand-held feeder bottles.)  I hope this blog helped any of you who also have a large supply of prescription bottles to make your own feeders.  If anything is unclear, send me a message and I will try to clarify.
     If any of you have decided that this is too much work to do for the time being, hit this link and buy one from us!  All proceeds will go towards further needed treatments (and coincidentally procuring more prescription bottles)!  Thanks so much for visiting!