Friday, January 29, 2016

How to turn a coconut into a bird feeder...

If you have a drill, a vice, a coconut, and some chain, you can make a super cute coconut bird feeder! Back in November I posted a Blue Jay gobbling up sunflower seeds out of a coconut bird feeder (click here for the post). Rick had made the feeder for me earlier in the day, and while he was making it, I photographed him. I had a hunch someone would want to know where I got it, or how I made it, and several people did, so here it goes...

1. Pick up a coconut from your local grocery store.  
Our Kroger's store carries coconuts that have been scored about halfway through. Look for those, because it's a breeze to open them with just a tap from a hammer along the score line. After you crack it open it, clean it out, then get busy...

2. Mark three equidistant spots to drill holes.   
You can do math to create the three evenly spaced points, but it's much easier to just guesstimate or use "The Force" (like I do). Use painter's tape to mark them.

Painter's tape marks the spots for the three holes. 

3. Knock out two of the "eyes."   
Find the three holes at the bottom of a coconut. Two are soft and are easy to push through. These "eyes" make ideal drainage holes to keep water from building up in the shell.

Use a screwdriver or the end of a pencil to push through the eyes to create the drainage holes.

4. Place the coconut in a vice.
Use cardboard squares to cushion the coconut and help keep it from slipping.

It's much easier to drill the holes if you can anchor the coconut in a vice. Little squares of cardboard make nice cushions.

5. Drill baby, drill.
Make sure the drill bit is large enough to create a hole that will fit the chain you've chosen. Drill about 1/4" to 1/2" from the edge.

It's better to drill a larger hole than a smaller hole. The chain I use isn't that wide, so a medium-sized bit works for me.

6. Cut three even lengths of chain, and open the last link on each chain.   
Only open one link at the end of each chain. Use the vice to secure the last link and simply twist it open with a needle-nosed pliers (or any type of pliers that fits).

It's easiest to open the chain by securing half of it in the vice.
You can use any type of chain. I like this type because it's easy to open the links, and the metal is very durable. I usually choose black because it doesn't stand out, but you can use any color. I've made coconut bird feeders using twine, rope, and leather (which looks cool), but chains are the best and last the longest.

7. Thread the open link through the drilled hole.   
Use the needle-nosed pliers to help you thread the link through. After it's through, close it up using the pliers.

It's very easy to attach the chain. Feed the link through and clamp it shut!

8. Hang the three loose ends of the chain on an S hook, and close the hook.   
Be sure to use the pliers to clamp the S hook closed so the chains don't slip off.

Could it be any easier? Hang the feeder in a tree, fill it with seed, and watch and wait!  

A sweet Carolina Chickadee was the first bird to sample the goods. The Blue Jay came next. The birds that most love this feeder are Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and Blue Jays. Strangely enough, the squirrels leave it alone! 

When did my love affair with coconut bird feeders start?
It goes all the way back to February 9, 1906. Yes, you read that right...1906! That's when Edith Holden wrote about a coconut bird feeder in her book, A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. At the end of her book, on page 176, she included an illustration of the feeder, and I fell in love with it.

Edith Holden's book is a hand-written record of her daily walks and observations of the countryside around the small village of Olton in Warwickshire, England. Edith is a talented artist and naturalist and fills the pages of her book with beautiful watercolor illustrations of the wildlife and scenery she encountered every day on her walks. Rendered with a naturalist’s eye for detail, her paintings are soft, colorful and engaging. Her love and deep understanding of nature is apparent in every painting. She also scatters her favorite poems in with the illustrations and includes historical information and even folk sayings.

Other Options
Sunflower seeds are not the only thing you can put in the coconut. You can also fill it with suet, or even leave the coconut meat in it. The birds will peck away at it (and if you look closely at Edith Holden's painting above, you'll see that's what she did. The little birds are grabbing pieces of coconut from the shell.).  I want to try making a few suet recipes and putting the suet in a coconut. When I find one that works really well, I'll let you know!


Diane Shields said...

I love this! So perfect for any backyard. We will be building one soon!


Kelly said...

Hi Aunt Dian! ...I know! I love coconut feeders...they are so cute and fun. I always put sunflower seeds in them, but this weekend I might work on a suet recipe and try that!

Bob Pelkey said...

The coconuts are falling from the trees now, Kelly.

Kelly said...

....lucky you! I guess I should change step 1 to mention if you live in a tropical or semi-tropical region forget the grocery store and just pick a coconut off the ground! :-)

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Believe it or not, I have that Edwardian Lady book. Don't remember why I bought it, but probably found it at a used book store. And there is the coconut feeder illustration on p. 176!

Kelly said...

....haha! It doesn't surprise me, Mary Ann!! I love that book so much. When I'm stressed I read it, or every now and then I just open it up to see what she was doing on that day. I've had for so long, it's fallen apart! You probably bought it for the art, like I did. Her paintings are beautiful, soft, accurate...and lovely!

Carol Mattingly said...

Amazing bird feeder. I've been seeing some different kinds of bird feeders lately. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hadn't heard from you in a bit. I hope to make it to Reelfoot Lake this Spring or Summer. I did photograph Fall Creek Falls this past Summer. So many great waterfalls in middle and eastern Tennessee. It's a paradise for waterfalling here. Take care. Carol

Alicia said...


Tammie Lee said...

wonderful feeder and i love the art of the one on the tripod.
love this idea. thanks for sharing.

Steve Borichevsky said...

I looked at the illustration at the end before reading the text and figured that must be from England. Goldfinch, Chough, Missel Thrush...That is a pretty nice historical piece you found.

Kelly said...

@Carol - I'd love to go back to Reelfoot Lake. I like it in February when the Bald Eagles are in full swing. I think they still have the Eaglefest. Take care!

@Alice - Thanks! :-)

@Tammie - Thank you! I love the art too....Edith Holden's paintings are beautiful.

@Steve - I know....they are so distinctive! would love the book and her paintings.

Carolien Rademakers said...

Will try to make this next winter! Maybe with te upper part of the coconut as a little roof to prevent the rain pouring in!

Kelly said...

Hi Carolien....that's a fun idea. I didn't even think about it. Let me know how it goes!! Thanks!