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How to Build a Bird Feeder Pole

Updated on September 14, 2017
The Finished Product
The Finished Product | Source

Do you want to attract birds to your garden? Are you looking for a cheap bird feeder pole?

This article will show you how to build one out of an old patio umbrella.

The finished result is a tall pole with 6 sturdy arms that will allow you to hang an array of bird feeders. The winding mechanism allows you to raise and lower the arms for easy refilling and the sturdy base prevents it from falling over.

The starting point: an old patio umbrella
The starting point: an old patio umbrella | Source

The Search for a New Bird Feeder Pole

I love watching birds in my garden and my original bird feeder pole was made from a shepherd’s crook with two plant brackets bolted to the top to provide additional arms to hang bird feeders. It has served me well but recently rusted away at ground level.

During my search for a replacement, it seemed as if almost all pole systems consist of three or four separate poles that join together. I was concerned that these would be too flimsy so I decided to look for alternatives using a single pole.

I investigated using copper or other metal water pipes but always ran into the same problem – how would I attach the arms to the pipe? If you have access to welding equipment, this might not be a problem for you, but for me it was.

During a visit to my neighbour’s backyard, I noticed an old patio umbrella and stand that he was about to throw out. Like all good hoarders, I hate to see things thrown out, and I was sure I’d find a use for it one day.

Then it hit me: an umbrella has arms, so why not turn it into a bird feeder pole?

Unscrew the finial
Unscrew the finial | Source
Remove the umbrella fabric
Remove the umbrella fabric | Source
Cut the arms to length
Cut the arms to length | Source
Drill holes to hang the bird feeders
Drill holes to hang the bird feeders | Source
Fix the base to a concrete slab
Fix the base to a concrete slab | Source
Lowering the arms to refill the bird feeders
Lowering the arms to refill the bird feeders | Source

From Patio Umbrella to Bird Feeder Pole

As you can see here, the process is quite simple. These are the steps that you need to follow:

  • Remove the umbrella fabric: Close the umbrella, unscrew the finial from the top of the pole, carefully remove each arm from its pocket in the fabric, remove the fabric and screw the finial back in.
  • Cut the arms to length: Determine how long you want each arm to be, then cut to the desired length using a hacksaw. I decided to cut about three inches beyond where the supports meet the arms. This gave a total arm length of 22 inches.
  • Drill holes to hang feeders: Drill holes about one inch from the end of each arm to hold s-shaped hooks for hanging the bird feeders.
  • Stabilize the tilting mechanism: If the umbrella has a tilting mechanism, it should snap into place in the upright position and be quite stable. However, it it seems wobbly at this joint then simply add a supporting clamp over the joint.
  • Secure the base: Most umbrellas have a heavy base that should stop the umbrella from falling over in all but the strongest winds. However, as the bird feeder pole can become top heavy when you add the bird feeders, I decided to attach the base to a round paving slab. I used a high-speed metal drill to make holes in the base, then used a concrete drill bit to put rawl plugs into the slab so that I could screw the base to the paving slab.
  • Winding mechanism: Most patio umbrellas have a winding mechanism. Mine did but it was broken. The mechanism is very simple, basically just a string winding around an axle, and it was easy to fix. This is a great feature because it allows me to lower the arms to facilitate refilling.
  • Make s-shaped hooks: Cut some stiff wire to a length of 4 inches then bend into an S-shape using pliers. Insert the hooks into the holes at the end of each arm.
  • Hang your feeders: Fill feeders, with seed, lower the umbrella arms, attach them to the S-shape hooks and raise arms to a horizontal position.

Squirrel / Raccoon Baffle

Depending on where you live, it is likely that you have squirrels and/or raccoons that want to get at your bird seed. I have a constant battle with raccoons in my garden.

To stop them climbing the pole, I constructed a heavy-duty baffle out of a regular squirrel baffle (a 14” wrap-around metal cone) and suspended from it a 12” diameter cylinder made from an old garbage pail. Positioning this at least 4 feet from the ground prevents squirrels from jumping into it, and raccoons from climbing round it.

Start Birdwatching Today!

Plenty of room for a variety of bird feeders
Plenty of room for a variety of bird feeders | Source

Now, sit back and wait. It won’t be long before you will have a host of birds feeding at your new bird feeder pole.

Happy birding!

Geoff

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    • geoffclarke profile image
      Author

      geoffclarke 11 months ago from Canada

      Thanks - I'm glad you like it - Happy birdwatching!

    • profile image

      Nancyklassen 11 months ago

      Great Idea - I copied it & it's working great

    • blessed365 profile image

      Vicky C. 5 years ago from New England

      Really cool and I like birdwatching too.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Awesome and up, Geoff! A fine idea for repurposing something that was mean for trash!

    • geoffclarke profile image
      Author

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Thanks Moonlake. I get a lot of different animals in my garden but fortunately not bears!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      I love this and such a good idea. I would like one in our yard but the bears would also like it. They would have it torn up in seconds. Enjoyed your hub. Voted up. Love your pictures.