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 live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020