Building a bird table is great fun and it’s much easier than you think. All you need are a few basic DIY skills and be prepared to have a go. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and can be made from any spare timber you have lying around.
When you put wild bird seed and perhaps a few slices of apple out first thing in the morning, it’s not long before the birds arrive to start feeding.
I chose this particular design as it looks fairly elegant and was simple to make. It’s a pretty standard design and one that you’ll find examples of all over the Internet.
The important thing about any bird table is to keep the seed as dry as possible and try to keep it on the table so as not to attract rats or mice to the table. So I’d recomend building a roof into your design and add a lip around edge of the table to stop any food falling onto the floor. Having said that the pigeons will scatter the seed all over the place anyway. :)
What about the sizes?
I’m not sure about how big or small a bird table needs to be but it needs to be in proportion.
These are the dimensions I used for the table in the photograph but feel free to experiment, that’s half the fun. If you’re worried about how it might turn out, one tip is to make a prototype out of cardboard first.
Recommended sizes …
- Table Top – 24″ long x 16″ wide.
- Height – 9″ to the top ridgeline of the roof.
- Side Supports – 8″ high x 3″ wide
- Side Pieces – 18″ wide and 4″ at the highest point
- Post – treated 2″ x 2″ (approximately 5ft from top to bottom)
- Post stabilisers - 2″ X 2″ softwood
To make the table in the photo you’re going to need the following:
- 18 mill plywood for the table
- 2″ x 2″ Rough sawn softwood
- 4″ Featherboard
- Edge trim for the table – (1″ x 1″ softwood battens)
- Angle bead to finish the ridge line of the roof
- Four (4) Metal Angle Brackets
- Exterior Grade Wood Glue
- A Power Drill
- Assorted Screws
- A Mitre Block and Tenon Saw. (For cutting 45 degree angles)
First job is to cut the edge trim to size and pin around the outside of the table, then screw the table top to the post using a couple of 2″ screws. I also used 4 angle brackets fitted underneath for added support.
Tip - If you need to find the center of a square or oblong piece of wood, draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner. Where the lines cross is the dead centre of the board.
I discovered when I was making my table just how important it is to make sure it’s stable. My first prototype base was made using two pieces of 2″ x 2″ crossed over and fixed in the center, but on the first really windy day it fell over which became a constant source of frustration.
So I looked at the commercial tables and found that fixing the legs at a 45 degree angle made for a more stable result.
If you have a chop saw the angles are easy enough to cut, if not then a miter block and tenon saw will do just as well.
Continue to build the remainder of the supports and side pieces using the drill and screws and finish the roof. You can use any board thin board but I had some old feather board lying around and it seems to look great as a bird table roof.
Final job is to finish off the roof with a piece of angle bead to allow the water to run off the ridge and paint the whole thing with a water based preservative. Worth checking the label as it’s important to use non toxic stain so as not to harm the birds.
I added a few hooks around the outside for hanging peanuts and fat cakes and that’s the table pretty much done.
What should you feed the birds?
There are folks out there far better qualified than me to comment on what to feed our feathered friends but I use a combination of wild bird seed mix and fat cakes that I make myself. Really easy to make, all you need is some lard a wild bird seed mix and some chunks of apple. They are really easy to make, cheap to make and the birds seem to love em!
If you fancy having a go at making your own fat cakes the recipe I used is below.
A simple Fat Cake recipe
You’re going to need:
- 1-2 Packets of Lard.
- A Bag of Wild bird Seed.
- An Apple or English Grapes when they are in season.
- Stout String (candle string is ideal)
- So used yogurt pots.
- Melt the lard in a deep pan, then let it cool slightly before adding the seeds and fruit. A word of caution here, melting lard gets verrrrrrry hot, so keep the heat low and just wait a bit longer for it to melt. Above all stay safe!
- Before the fatty mix starts to set pour it into a mould, not too big (old yogurt pots will do just fine or Yorkshire pudding trays work just as well).
- Before the lard starts to set take a 3-4″ piece of string and drop it into the mix keeping about 2″ outside the mould.
- Leave the moulds to set for a couple of hours and then place in the fridge overnight to set nice and hard.
- The next day remove the fat cake from the mould and tie the string to the hooks around the outside of your new bird table.
I hope your bird table brings you as much pleasure as ours has, and keep an eye out for the varieties of birds that visit. We are up to 12 so far and one of those is a Jay who while looking fantastic, frightens the other birds. Not sure what we’re going to do about that one.
Good luck with your table, and do feel free to ask if you need any more info on the construction methods.
PS. We’ve included a FREE pdf of this post that you can download and use at your leisure with our best wishes.