Building the World's Largest Bird Feeder

With the help of lots of friends and neighbors, we filled and hoisted the world's largest bird feeder between two stout trees with a chain hoist. Our first bird shortly arrived, a black-capped chickadee.
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The first question on the reader's mind may be, "Why?"

It's not a simple answer, but the short story is that it was just something that got out of hand.

As a science teacher, I am always looking for ways to get people interested in science and the natural world, so I periodically invite groups down to my "camp" in Keister, West Virginia, on the Greenbrier River. The focus is usually water quality and aquatic life, but any reptiles or birds sighted usually mean a detour in the planned activities.

Because my students and friends showed an interest in birds, I put up a small feeder filled with sunflower seed. Sure enough, the feeder attracted birds—so many, in fact, that I had to refill the feeder a couple of times a week.

Looking for a larger feeder, I did a Web search for "large bird feeder" and up popped a photo and story about the Guinness Book of World Records Largest Bird Feeder, a feeder in England that held about 230 pounds of seed. "I can do better than that," I thought, so I designed a feeder that was about twice the size of the record holder.

I showed the design to a professional carpenter and amateur birder friend, Chris Ide. When he saw my design, he said, "Well maybe if you do this, how about if we do that, what would happen if we changed this..." (Birders are always beating around the bush, aren't they.) In the end we designed the feeder to hold 760 pounds of seed based on his ideas. It has 20 feeding ports in eight large compartments to accommodate different types of seed. These compartments have inclined floors so the feed continuously enters the feeding ports, and with the hanging feeders on each corner, I am able to experiment with many types of seed to see who eats what.

After contacting the Guinness Book of World Records to get approval for the attempt, we constructed the feeder. With the help of lots of friends and neighbors, we filled and hoisted it between two stout trees with a chain hoist. Our first bird shortly arrived, a black-capped chickadee.

A few weeks later, after submitting all the documentation (a big stack of stuff consisting of signed affidavits, still photos, videos, newspaper articles, etc.), we received our certificates in the mail declaring our feeder the largest in the world.

In just a couple of months, the large number and variety of birds visiting it have eaten over 200 pounds of seed. So far, I have identified the American goldfinch, northern cardinal, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, black-capped chickadee, mourning dove, Carolina wren, white-breasted nuthatch, northern flicker, blue jay, white-throated sparrow, dark-eyed junco, eastern towhee, tufted titmouse, indigo bunting, and others.

There's nothing more fun and satisfying than watching the birds come and go all day from the feeder. (Of course, you already knew that.)

About William Greene

William makes his home in southern West Virginia with his wife and two cats. A science teacher with 34 years of experience, he currently works with the Creative Classrooms Program for Carnegie Hall West Virginia, offering science enrichment classes to rural schools.

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  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018