A beautiful addition to your garden, this bird feeder has been built with smaller dimensions to deter larger birds. Made from a 1×10, you too can build your own tree bird feeder for small birds in an afternoon.

The title of this might be a misnomer, small birds can really use any bird feeder at all – I believe it’s more about the food that you put into your feeder that determines what birds come and visit?  That being said, this tree bird feeder might leave a bluejay or anything larger feeling claustrophobic.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to items I used in this build.  For full Amazon affiliate disclosure, please see the bottom of the page.

This stemmed from a video I’d seen on FB where a gentleman built a tree-shaped bird feeder out of scrap pallet wood.  I believe the only tools in the video were a jigsaw and a nail gun, but the end result was so pretty!

You know I had to try.

Bird feeder for small birds

1″ x 10″ wood cedar is ideal (not plywood or MDF as they won’t hold up to the elements)

Drawing out the tree:

On your 12″ pieces you’ll trace your “short sides”, or 1 ½” up from the bottom.

cut a piece of 1x10 to 12"

Mark the top centre of your 12″ board and use your side pieces to trace 1 ½” roof line – see below.

marking the roof line on the tree bird feeder

Now you’re going to freehand draw a trunk and some swooping branches.  The branches will need to be fairly thick or they might crack off during cutting. (you’ll see below in my first attempt)

freehand draw a tree

In a perfect world you’d cut this out with a scroll saw; because while a jigsaw works, the vibrations are really rough and the edges won’t come out as smooth.  Below you’ll see that I taped my 12 boards together and cut them at the same time so that I could be sure the tree outlines were exactly the same on both sides. It worked, but some broke off and the edges were pretty chewed.

You’ll also notice that I didn’t cut within my triangular roof line that I’d drawn on.  Photo 2 is really how you want your tree bird feeder sides to look.  This is just to show you a bit of my trial and error.

cut out your tree template with a jig saw or scroll saw

On my second attempt, I used my scroll saw and cut out each side individually.  More work, but a much cleaner finish – and the sides are “close enough” to identical that I don’t think birds (big or small) will mind terribly.  Sand, router, or leave as-is – up to you.

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

The hard part of your build is done!  Sides are ready, so now all you have to do is determine the width you’d like your feeder to be.  I chose to cut my base piece at 7 ½” by 7 ¾” – I think I did that mainly because after I’d built my prototype, I was running low on the 1 x 10 wood.

If you are following these plans exactly, then you’ll also need two side pieces that are 7 ¾” long by 1 ½”, or even 2″ tall.  These are the edges of your bird feeder that will keep the bird seed in.

building the base of your bird feeder

Using outdoor appropriate wood glue, glue the sides to the base and clamp until dry.

clamp the sides to the base of your bird feeder

You can kind of see in the photo above that I drilled a few holes in the base as well.  That’s so that water doesn’t pool and freeze all of the food together so that no one can eat.

Attach the tree sides to your bird feeder using outdoor-appropriate wood glue and clamps.  You can add small nails if you wish, but the glue will be more than strong enough once dry.  The tree sides will overlap the short edges so that you will have nice clean sides with no joints showing.

BUT – before you add glue, make sure that your trees are facing the same direction – which means gluing on opposite sides. (Guess how I figured this out?)

attaching the tree sides to your bird feeder

I ripped down a 2×4  to ¼” thick pieces on my table saw.  I like the layered shingle look, but you could easily just cut strips from the 1×10 board and have an unlayered roof.

Finishing nails won’t hold these well, so wood glue is needed and if you are using a nail gun, make sure that it is set so that the nail heads aren’t countersunk.  Start at the bottom and work your way up to the peak.  

attaching shingles to your tree bird feeder

At the top you can glue two together with a butt joint.

adding shingles to your bird feeder for small birds

That’s it!

I generally sand before assembly, but you could do that now if you want – the birds really won’t care.  You may have also notice that I used my trim router and a roundover bit everywhere.  Not at all necessary, but it is a neat look.  Truth is I’m just obsessed with my little trim router right now and I roundover everything I can get my hands on.   (Envision: He-man raising his sword to the sky and shouting “By the power of grey skull…”  Except I’m a woman and it’s my little Rigid I’d be holding to the gods lol)

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

I didn’t build my bird feeder for small birds out of cedar – which is really the best option – but cedar is expensive, and I couldn’t find it in a 1×10 size.  To protect my little tree bird feeder from rotting immediately, I added an outdoor stain and sealer to help keep moisture out.

I’m including the following photo to show you that everything has a learning curve.  Don’t be ticked off if you don’t get it on the first try. The difference between my first attempt (right) and second is HUGE, but I couldn’t have achieved the second without learning from building the first… and let’s be real – the BIRDS DON’T CARE.

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

My first attempt was a bit too tall – only bothered me because I wanted less maneuverability for squirrels and to make it a bit more awkward for larger birds to perch.

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

If you build this tree bird feeder based on my measurements, you’ll find that it holds just under 2 cups of bird seed.  Enough for all of the chickadees in the neighbourhood to feast, but not so much that if (let’s be real; “when”) a squirrel gets in, all of your food isn’t gone in one sitting.

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

I’ve hung mine on the arbour I built around my back gate.

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

On the other side, I’ve hung the modern bird feeder I built last winter.  (It holds less than 1 cup of bird seed)

modern bird feeder

It really is pretty – would be even prettier if I could get a photo of it with some birds.

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

What do you think?  Does it look natural? 

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

This is really what it looks like most of the time:

bird feeder for small birds, tree bird feeder

(Phenomenal photo editing right?!)

But it’s Dog TV, so it’s still a win in my book.

Have a great one!