Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978
More Articles Browse All Articles >>

You are in:  Play | Far-Out Feeders

Far-Out Feeders

By The Junior Master Gardener® Program
Bird and Worm Whether it’s a pair of squirrels chasing each other through the trees or a chorus of frogs and songbirds that help rid the garden of harmful insects, wildlife can be a welcome addition to any garden setting. Junior Master Gardener® (JMG), an international youth gardening program developed by the Texas Cooperative Extension, has developed the Wildlife GardenerSM program to help youths understand wildlife and their needs while learning to appreciate their contribution and their aesthetic value to a garden habitat. The Wildlife Gardener curriculum engages children in outdoor activities and exploration. It increases environmental awareness and allows children to learn responsibility in caring for living things. Wildlife Gardeners will be able to recognize the basic components of habitat and learn how to incorporate those components into a garden setting to attract desirable wildlife to their wildlife garden.

One of the most colorful additions to any wildlife garden is birds. To attract more birds to your backyard, JMG offers the following ideas for Far-Out Feeders.


Where do you usually eat dinner? Not everyone eats in the same surroundings. Some people like to eat in the kitchen while others prefer a more formal dining room setting. Birds, too, have preferences about where they eat. Some birds like to eat from a feeder suspended in the air. Some like to eat from feeders attached to tree trunks. And, some birds like to eat from flat surfaces close to the ground.

With so many different types of bird feeders, which kinds attract the most birds? To figure this out, try building some of these far out feeders to see which ones attract the birds in your backyard, and if certain birds make it a habit of dining at one versus the others.

Make at least two of the feeders listed below – or try all four! After the feeders have been in place for several days, go outside to observe. Continue to observe over the next few weeks and try to answer these questions:

1. Did certain kinds of birds prefer certain types of feeders?
2. What types of birds did each feeder type attract?
3. What type of feeder(s) attracted the most birds? Why?
4. What types of feeder(s) attracted the least amount of birds? Why?

Certain birds are more prevalent during certain times of the year and may be active only at certain times of the day. Visit to learn more about these birds and when they are more likely to be in your area.

Refill the feeders regularly and visit the feeders at different times of day to monitor their use. Be sure to replace wet birdseed often and periodically wash the bird feeders.

Type I - Hanging Feeders

Orange FeederOrange Feeder
Materials: one orange or grapefruit, spoon, peanut butter, string or wire, birdseed

Cut the orange or grapefruit in half. Scoop out most of the flesh and seeds leaving the peel (or rind) intact. Spread a layer of peanut butter over the inside of the scooped out fruit. Punch one hole in one side of the orange near the top (open side). Punch a second hole across the first. These two holes will be used for hanging the feeder. Tie string or wrap wire through the two holes to create the hanger. Fill the orange with birdseed and hang from the limb of a tree or under a building eave.

Milk Jug FeederMilk Jug Feeder
Materials: washed milk jug, nail, scissors, string or wire, paint or markers, birdseed

Punch a hole near the spout of a milk jug using the point of a nail. Next, make a second hole across the first. Tie string or wire through the holes to create a hanger. Cut a half circle shape out of three sides of the milk jug, excluding the handle side. These are the openings where the birds can access the seeds. Decorate the milk jug with paint or markers. Fill with seed and hang outside. Hint: Sunflower seed with help attract more songbirds.

Type II - Raised Platform Feeders

Board FeederBoard Feeder
Materials: wooden board, bricks, birdseed

Place a board on a few bricks so that the board is stable and slightly raised off the ground. Scatter birdseed on the board. Replace seeds if they become wet. Or, place the board securely in a low fork of a tree. Or, scatter seeds on a tree stump.

Type III - Hummingbird Feeder

Recycled Bottle and Wire Hummingbird Feeder
Materials: bottle with screw-on metal lid (rinsed well), small nail and hammer, wire coat hanger (or other heavy gauge wire), water, sugar, string

Recycled Bottle and Wire Hummingbird FeederUsing a hammer and small nail, tap a pin hole-sized opening in the center of the metal cap. Use paint pens to decorate the cap to resemble a blooming flower. Be sure to use the color red! Show your group how to use coat hangers to create a “harness” for the bottle. Dissolve¼ cup sugar into 1 cup of hot water. After the sugar water has cooled, pour the mixture inside the bottle. Hang feeders with openings pointed down in the garden area. (When the bottle is first turned upside down, the mixture will leak for several seconds until the pressure lowers enough to hold the liquid inside).


Now that you’ve observed what types of birds like which feeders, use your new found knowledge and creativity to design a new kind of Far-Out Feeder made from recycled materials. First, decide on what type of feeder you want to create and look for any type of safe materials that can be reused, recycled, or adapted to serve as an effective, even attractive feeder. Sketch your design, create a diagram complete with measurements and dimensions, and write a brief how-to description that provides instructions on how to build it!

To learn more about Junior Master Gardener Groups in your area, or how to start your own, visit the JMG web site at:

All text and images Copyright © 2004 by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. All Rights Reserved.

Share This

What Makes a Good Toy?

Award-Winning Toys

Media Ratings Television Ratings Movie Ratings Video Game Ratings

Sign Up
Our news & features delivered to your inbox.