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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: drinker

I noticed a hummingbird sitting on our Suet block cage a few weeks ago. It was pouring, so I assumed it was getting out of the rain, since it is located under an overhang. But, it turns out, that although hummingbirds need sugar for energy, they also need protein. Their protein comes in the form of insects. Suet blocks attract birds that feed on insects, since the animal fat suet is made of provides a great source of protein. He/she has not been back to take advantage of the suet. I’m not sure if hummingbirds even bother with suet. So, I’m putting out a sugar water feeder to get the hummingbird(s) into view.

The advantage of making your own hummingbird food is:


FYI – Red Food Dye is completely unnecessary.
It may look nice to you, but the birds don’t care.
There is no conclusive research saying the dye
is dangerous to the birds, but there is also
no long term research saying it is safe.

One Part Sugar (Organic or White/Refined)
Four Parts Water 

In a small pot, I poured one cup of sugar and four cups of water. This is enough to get started, but you can make a lot, and store it in the refrigerator for about ten days.


Stir the sugar into the water with a spoon or fork.


Boil your concoction until the water is bubbling.

Then, let it cool down to room temperature.



Add to your feeder (funnels are handy) and hang it up outside. You can purchase one for a few dollars or get a fancy one if you’d like.

One important thing is to keep your hummingbird feeder in the shade. That way, the homemade nectar will stay fresher, longer. The second thing is to hang it in a way that discourages pests like ants. Make sure that there are not branch or other pathways (other than the necessity of a string) for crawling bugs to get to it. Bees? There is not much you can do to deter them, but hopefully you will only get honey or bumble bees, which are fun to watch too.


You could make a hummingbird drinker. Just obtain a wine bottle, twine, a cork, thin copper pipe, and a little end cap that you can get at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or a Local Hardware Store (a well-stocked one, with weird little items like this).

Change the nectar often. I always rinse the feeder with bleach water, since sugar water tends to create mold. Rinse it thoroughly, so that no chlorine residue remains.

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We have tried many different ways to provide fresh water to our fowl. Containers have been purchased at the farm supply stores. Bowls have been made from old pots and buckets.

Either way, there has always been quite a problem with the birds getting their drinking supply dirty. I have been trying to come up with a good, low cost solution that is not too difficult to set up.

I recently discovered that you need to put a little money into a specialized part. Then you can recycle household items (2 liter soda containers, wire/twine) for the rest of the project.

The part was probably, originally designed for use in higher volume PVC pipe type watering systems. If you poke around the net, you will find some information about their use for back yard flock waterers. I purchased a dozen push in watering nipples from Meyer Hatchery’s web site (McMurray Hatchery – similar name but no drinkers for sale).

Large Soda Bottle with Nipple

Getting this together is a bit harder than it looks. You must have a good drill and a bit that is about 23/64″. The hole that you drill needs to be as small as possible so that the nipple fits tightly and does not leak.

The crucial pivot point of my neck is damaged, so I have to commandeer my husband for tasks that require arm strength and pressure derived from the upper body. Even as a really big guy, he struggled to push the nipple (including 1/2 of the rubber washer) through the hole. I may try to find a drill bit that is just a touch wider.

Drilling can be a challenge since the soda bottle cap wants to spin with the drill bit. I have a solution in my head that would make the task easier if one were to make a lot of these drinkers. You need to use a 2″ x 4″ board under the cap to drill through it and not into the floor. But, I think if you were to attach two pieces of wood to this board in a V-like shape, you could slid the cap into the spot where it was snug for drilling.

The next step is to construct something in order to to hang the bottle up at bird head level – so that they can drink comfortably. We drilled a small hole on either side towards the base of each bottle. Wire or rope slides right through the middle and creates a handy hanger when tied or twisted at the ends.

Hanger and Filler Door

You also need a way to fill the bottle up with water. I wanted the watering system to be EASY to manage. Not wanting to have to take the bottles out of the coop, take off the cap, fill and put back, I decided on a hole at the base near the holes for the hanger.

After several tries, I came up with a good solution. A “Fish Mouth” shape was the winner. So that the least amount of contaminants would enter the bottle, a flap was a necessity. It was also important that an average size hose would fit in for filling. I followed the contour of one of the 5 bubbles in the bottle design that make up the standing base. PERFECT!

These were tested before I wrote this Blog entry. They work great! So far, the new drinkers are in the standard chicken, guinea, bantam chicken and quail pens. A few drops of water and shiny steel parts attracted the birds to the nipples. By the next day they were all drinking readily from the hanging pop bottles.

Water in the drinkers lasts several days. You can add a little apple cider vinegar or a drop of bleach to help keep them clean. I am guessing that periodically, the bottles will have to be replaced. The caps with nipples can be re-used over and over again.

Final Product

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