Feral cat and dog colonies rely upon the kindness of strangers to keep them nourished, but bowls of kibble attract anything with the need or desire for a snack. Bird-proof feeders can be purchased from pet supply retailers, but they can put a dent in your wallet, especially if you're contributing to more than one colony, and need more than one feeder. A plastic bin fashioned into a DIY feeder is an affordable substitute.
The Kibble Shelter
Outdoor feeders are useful to feed strays and can sustain the outdoor cat when you are away or afford a snack to the family dog who spends time in his fenced-in enclosure. A plastic bin can make a sturdy outdoor feeder that keeps birds out and kibble safe from the occasional rain shower.
Not Just for Storage
A 16 1/2-gallon storage bin is sufficient in size and sturdiness for the construction of your outdoor feeder. A clear storage bin with a white top will keep kibble from being visible to birds, and many bins comes with a latched lid. The opening for the feeder station should be oval. The dimensions of a standard bin of this size are 12 1/2-inches tall, 26 1/3-inches long and 16 inches in width. Trace an oval 16 inches at its longest and 6 inches at its tallest, onto a piece of paper. This will serve as a pattern for the entry into the outdoor feeder.
A Cut Above
Tape the paper oval onto the side of the storage bin. The opening should be near the top of the feeder, but should leave enough of an upper edge so the lid will snap into place. Carefully cut around the oval with a heavy-duty box cutter. Remove the paper. Sand the edges with fine-grade sandpaper, making certain not to leave rough edges that might injure a four-legged dinner guest. The food bowl should fit into the bin easily. For best results, it should leave an inch or two gap along each side. A small cat litter pan may work well.
Birds aren't the only outdoor inhabitants who might like to visit an outdoor feeder. Insects are a common sight around outdoor feeding stations. Creating a moat with a small amount of water around the food bowl, inside the bin, may keep ants and other insects from contaminating the food. Use a pan slightly larger than the pan you used to place the food in to place water in and keep ants out. Remember to change the food frequently so that it doesn't spoil or mold.