How to Make Finch Feeders

How to Make Finch Feeders
When making a finch feeder, it is important to make your feeder accessible to finches while keeping other birds from devouring all of the thistle seed inside. Thistle, also known as niger (or nyger) seed, is a very small, oily black seed. This is the preferred food of colorful finches. It is expensive, hence the need to keep it in the best possible shape and limit access to the seed to only the birds you hope to attract.

Goldfinch also enjoy sunflower seeds, which can be offered from any almost any feeder. Special instructions are only necessary if you hope to encourage certain finch varieties and discourage other birds.


Difficulty: Moderate

Standard Finch Feeder

Things You’ll Need:
  • PVC pipe or screen wire
  • Hacksaw
  • Two PVC caps that fit the pipe
  • Two small screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill with small bit
  • Measuring tape
  • 1/8 inch (approximate) diameter dowel rod
  • 6 to 8 inches of wire
  • Wire cutters
Step 1
Choose a basic feeder body. They are most often tubular in shape. Any material could be used, but a clear body (PVC or screen wire) is preferable to allow you to more easily view the contents of the feeder. The shiny black thistle seeds are attractive; however, what you want to observe is trapped moisture near the bottom of the feeder that may allow seed to congeal and mold over.
Step 2
Use a hacksaw to cut the PVC to the desired length. Feeders vary in size, so the length of the feeder is up to you. Most manufactured versions are about 1.5 feet long.
Step 3
Add a top and bottom to your feeder to keep out water and keep the seed contained. The top should be removable in order to add seed easily. A PVC cap can be placed on top with no glue or screw anchors needed.

The bottom should detach to allow cleaning. A PVC cap, screwed in place, will serve well. Drain holes are not recommended. They will not work well because of the size of the seed.
Step 4
Drill out feeding ports. Size feeding ports only large enough to allow the bird to extract the seed. Thistle seed is about 4 mm long and 1 to 1.5 mm wide.
Step 5
Drill holes for perch mounts. A dowel makes an effective perch. A 1/8 inch or 3 mm dowel will suffice. A single rod can be cut into multiple perches.

Keep other small birds away by mounting perches above the seed ports. Finches can feed from an upside-down position. Sparrows have more difficulty maintaining this position long enough to feed effectively.

Shorten the perch length to further eliminate other bird species. Some bird enthusiasts have had luck deterring nuisance species with perches of less than 3/4 inch.
Step 6
Create a small hole on each side of the top edge of the feeder. Insert a wire, one end in each hole, and twist it to secure, leaving a small arch at the apex. Use the wire to hang your feeder from a post or tree.

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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