How To Make Your Own Thistle Feeder (DIY Guide)

Making a thistle feeder doesn’t have to be hard. There are multiple ways that you can make a thistle feeder that finches will love, right at home.

Here’s how to make your own thistle feeder out of burlap:

  1. Gather your supplies
  2. Cut and sew the burlap
  3. Add the seed and hang

Here’s how to make your own tube thistle feeder:

  1. Gather your supplies
  2. Create perches
  3. Add a string for hanging
  4. Add the seed

How To Make a Burlap Sock Thistle Feeder

Burlap thistle socks are great for finches and other small birds.

They don’t have wooden perches, but they offer a good grip for lightweight birds who can hang directly on the burlap. 

Gather Your Supplies

Making a burlap thistle sock is one of the simplest ways to make a thistle feeder for finches, and it’s a great way to use extra gardening materials.

You only need a few materials:

  • Burlap (¼ yard or .22m)
  • Sewing machine or needles, thread
  • Scissors
  • Jute

Note that ¼ yard (.22m) of burlap will make about three 15-inch (38 cm) long socks. 

Cut and Sew the Burlap

You’ll need to cut the burlap into an 8-inch by 15-inch (20 x 38 cm) rectangle, then fold it in half lengthwise and sew the ends together.

Ensure that you allow a bit of extra space at the seam, leaving at least ⅝ inch (1.59 cm) of extra fabric.

For extra security, you can sew a second seam ¼ inch (.63 cm) in from the first seam.

Then you can sew the top edge of the sock together. 

Next, turn under the other end of the sock to create a long pocket for the string to run through.

At this point, you can turn the sock inside out to hide the seams.  

Add the Seed and Hang

Once the sock is made, fill it to the top with thistle seed.

Then, you can thread the jute through the loop you’ve made and cinch it together at the top before tying a slipknot and hanging the sock out in your yard for the birds to enjoy. 

If you’re concerned about spilling thistle, consider adding the seed to your sock with a funnel. 

Note that a burlap sack feeder can easily go bad if it gets wet. Mold spreads quickly, and it’s difficult to impossible to clean these feeders.

Instead, you’ll need to throw away and replace the sock entirely. You’ll notice that birds stop visiting the feeder once the seed has gone bad.

How To Make a Tube Feeder

Another easy way to make a thistle feeder is to use a plastic tube. To make this kind of feeder, you’ll need to put holes in the sides for perching and feeding.

See the following instructions for a full how-to on how to make a tube thistle feeder:

Gather Your Supplies

To make a tube feeder, the first thing that you need to do is gather the following materials:

  • Tennis ball tube
  • Permanent marker
  • Craft knife
  • Jumbo popsicle sticks
  • String

If you want to decorate your tube feeder, you can also add acrylic paint, a paintbrush, and tape to your list of supplies.

Create Perches

To make perches for your feeder, mark the spot where you’d like to add perches with a permanent marker and then use a craft knife to cut slits in the spots.

You should then use the knife to create small triangles with the slit as the base so that the birdseed is accessible. 

You can then take popsicle sticks and feed them through the slits to create your perches. Feel free to add several perches to make room for more birds at your feeder.

Add a String for Hanging

Next, drill a hole through the tube’s lid and thread your piece of string through it. Tie a knot in the string inside the lid, then send both ends of the string through the hole.

This will create a large loop that you can use for hanging. 

Add the Seed

One benefit of a tube feeder is that it’s very easy to add new seeds. You can put many different kinds of seed in a tube feeder, including thistle.

Ensure that you fill the container to the top and routinely clean the feeder before adding new seed when it runs out. 

Where To Hang a Thistle Feeder

Thistle feeders make a great addition to a backyard porch or garden. You can hang a feeder directly on a tree, on a freestanding pole, or a hanger on your deck.

In any case, the feeder should be placed somewhere safe where you can see it. 

What’s a Safe Location for a Bird Feeder?

A safe location for a bird feeder is somewhere it’s protected from the wind and sun.

Wind can cause the seed to spill and make it less likely that birds will perch there to eat, and too much sunlight can cause the seed to spoil. 

Birds will also feel safer at your feeder if the feeder is close to shrubs, trees, and bushes where they can find shelter. 

Ensure that your feeder is the right distance from windows: either less than 3 feet (.91m) or over 10 feet (3m) away.

When feeders are between 3 (.91m) and 10 feet (3m) away from the nearest window, you run the risk that a bird will fly quickly into the area and collide with the window.

You’ll also need to keep squirrels away from your feeder.

Generally, you should place a bird feeder at least five feet (1.5m) up from the ground, seven feet (2.1m) from the nearest tree or building, and more than nine feet (2.7m) lower than the nearest high surface.

This decreases the possibility that squirrels will be able to access the feeder. 

Birds That Commonly Use a Thistle Feeder

Finches are the most famous thistle-eating birds, but you’ll find numerous other birds at a thistle feeder, too.

The species you’ll see will vary depending on your location, but some of the most common birds to find at a thistle feeder are mourning doves, dark-eyed juncos, scaled quail, redpolls, pine siskins, purple finches, house finches, Cassin’s finches, and American goldfinches.