Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder

This morning, Bubba and I were sitting outside in our tiny 8x15' backyard.  I was working on my pallet garden,* and he was working on his tan.  Then.  Friends, THEN.  Something magical happened.

We were both instantly captivated by the hummingbird.  Possibly for different reasons.

He checked the place out, and then took off just a few brief moments later.  I may have been overcome with emotion.

Can I have a moment of stupid with you?  I didn't know hummingbirds were a thing in this part of Mexico.  That I could expect to see one.  But now that I know, well, I absolutely have to repeat the experience.  The obvious conclusion came to mind.
I'm sure you might have guessed based on my previous statements regarding San Pedro shopping, that hummingbird feeders are not something you can just run to Wal-Mart and grab here.  Because apparently the fancy people of San Pedro are too fancy to enjoy what is basically a snitch covered in turquoise glitter.  I know, I don't understand them either.  But they can suck it, because I'll just make my own hummingbird feeder, and then the glitter snitch can come back and I can squeal with delight every day (but not too loudly, I don't wanna scare it away).

If you want to make your own, I'll walk you through how I did it.  Because while there are plenty of tutorials online to make your own... well they're not pretty.  And that's kind of important to me.  Perhaps it is to you too.

Here's what you're going to need:
  • A glass bottle and accompanying lid
  • A larger lid on it's own
  • A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • An empty Tide Bottle (I imagine a RED Plastic folders canister would work too)
  • Yellow paint and a paint brush
  • A hot glue gun and glue
  • Some plastic coated wire
  • A box cutter
Also needed but not pictured:
  • Needle-nosed pliers to cut the wire
  • An astonishing lack of fear in regards to burning yourself with liquid-hot magma glue
  • A screw or nail to poke holes

The steps:
1.  CLEAN EVERYTHING REALLY WELL.  Hummingbirds can't eat off of anything dirty.  It will make their tiny little tummies upset.  And what kind of soulless person would you be making hummingbirds sick?  For real though.  Clean all of it.

2.  Scrape the glue from the label off of the glass bottle.  Optional:  Curse a lot at how tedious that is.  Realize that the magic eraser would probably do a quicker job.  Prove yourself right.

3.  Paint the outside rim of the larger lid yellow.  Just the outside.  NOT THE INSIDE.

4.  Cut apart the Tide or red Foldger's bottle.  The brand is not important here, the color of the bottle is - Hummingbirds instinctively look for red flowers to feed from.  The yellow center of flowers helps them zero in on where the nectar actually is.  We're gonna make a fake flower is what I'm telling you.  So as long as you have yellow paint and some kind of red plastic it doesn't matter what brands you patronize.
When I say cut it up - I mean just that.  Go Edward Scissorhands on it.  Make a whole bunch of little strips in varying sizes and widths.  More than a whole bunch.  A lot.  Cut up the whole damn bottle except the part where the labels are.  And watch your fingers, no trips to the hospital, yo.
5.  Once you have a bunch of strips, let your OCD wander for a bit and organize them into piles of long, medium, and short.  (You will need more than is pictured here, this is just an example)
6.  Flip the  large, yellow-rimmed lid over.  With your handy-dandy glue gun, start working your way around the outside edge, gluing down the longest pieces.  Because tide bottles are a little lighter red on the inside, I decided to randomly flip some pieces to make it more color-interesting.
7.  Keep.  Going.  As you continue going around the lid, start working your way inside.  Hold the pieces up at an angle.  When you get to the middle, put a big dab of glue there and just stick pieces in there willy-nilly.  You'll end up with a big, 3-D, plastic burst of red.  Keep filling in spaces here and there with glue and bottle until you're satisfied with how it looks.  I threw on some longer curvy pieces at the end because I didn't want it to look too controlled.  Optional:  Burn your fingers horribly because you consistently fail to remember how you burned your fingers 3 seconds ago by touching the hot glue.

8.  Cut two long pieces of the coated wire (I think mine were about 2.5 feet each).  It's coated because you're about to put this outside and rust is generally considered ugly.  In case you wondered why I was all specific on that.  If you have wire hangers that are painted, that will likely do just fine.

9.  One piece at a time, wrap the middle point of the wire around the neck of the bottle twice.  Twist.  Now do the same thing with the other piece, with the end twist being 180* around from the first.
10.  I don't know how best to describe this - my best attempt is to ask you to look closely at a chain link fence's construction.  Take the Right-hand half of one wire, and diagonally pull it up the bottle.  Halfway, make a v.  Now take the Left-hand of the other wire and snake it diagonally up the bottle toward that v.  At the first v, make a second v, and link them together.  Now flip the bottle and do the same thing on the other side.

11.  Repeat the same chain-link technique at the (now) top of the bottle.

12.  Pull all four pieces of wire to the middle of the bottle's "bottom-but-for-our-purposes-it's-totally-the-top-now."  Twist it into a loop.  Make sure this twist is secure enough to hold the bottle, once it's full of liquid, without unbending.

13.  Try to remember where you put the smaller cap that fits the bottle.
14.  Find it in your pocket after searching for 15 full minutes.  Then poke a hole in it with a screw or nail or whatever you have handy that's pokey.

15.  Back to your hot glue gun, make two not-quite semi-circles on the top of the cap you just poked a hole in.  IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT THAT THE TWO HALF CIRCLES DO NOT TOUCH.

16.  Now stick that to the inside of the flower-lid.  BUT- don't squish it flat - hold it up a bit so it dries with a little space between the lids, and two open spaces to allow sweet, sweet nectar to pass.

17.  Find a recipe online to make your own hummingbird-food.  Basic gist? 4-1 water and white sugar.  Make sure it cools completely before you put it in the bottle.   Hummingbird tongues will thank you.

18.  Then all you have to do is load up your feeder, screw on the lid, and hang that puppy up outside.  And if you're me you'll also take a picture but be too excited about it to actually rotate it properly before posting it on your blog.

19.  Final optional step: sigh at the realization that you're going to get just to the point of liking how your mini backyard is set up around the same time you'll have to leave it.  Such is life.  

Now the only thing that remains is to name the glitter-snitch hummingbird.  
I am taking suggestions in the comments.  

*You may see in that last picture there that I've got my palette garden "finished."  In the sense that there are plants planted in it.  But you know, gardens are ongoing things.  I learned from this experience that it is FAR harder to put this together than it looks on the Pinterest link, and also that dirt in Mexico is either sold as super-expensive Miracle Grow, or "dirt" that is actually just bags of composted tobacco and manure.  Which smells about as horrible as you imagine.  Live and learn.  And then get luvs.  Or just enjoy some tasty home-grown tomatoes.


AJ said...


AJ Again said...

I love this post. Making stuff and projects rule. :)