Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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! 


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