Emma Grace Fairchild:
Birds all around the world visit feeders during the harsher winter months and often rely on them for survival. Insects, many birds’ primary source of food, are difficult to find during the winter months. Hanging bird feeders through the autumn and winter months provides an important food source for non-migratory birds. Once they are set up, watching the birds that come to visit is a lovely and educational activity for the whole family.
There are countless designs of bird feeders and many types of birdseed to choose from. Some popular seeds that attract birds are black oil sunflower seeds or thistle seed, although many bird specific mixes are available to purchase as well. To attract the most birds, you want to offer a variety of foods at several places in your yard and at different levels. This doesn’t have to be a big investment, as there are many creative and environmentally friendly ways to make your own bird feeders for the birds that stick around each winter! Here are some ideas for bird feeders to create with your friends and family this autumn.
Pine cone bird feeders are a fond memory from my own childhood, and are especially easy to make. To create a nutrient rich snack for birds, all you need is a large pinecone, peanut butter and birdseed. Simply spread peanut butter over the pinecone (careful — sometimes the cones are sharp!) and roll the sticky cone in a dish of bird seed before hanging the final product from a tree. A similar approach uses orange peels as a vehicle for a homemade mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. It’s a great way to use orange halves after juicing, as you simply spread some peanut butter or other fat inside a hollowed orange half, then press into bird seed, mixed nuts and seeds, or dried fruits. Just as it does on the pinecone, the peanut butter binds the chunkier bird food to the peel so birds can rest on the peel and pick at the treats inside. As an aside, for either of these homemade bird feeders, you could use any fat you have on hand such as butter or bacon fat.
With a little more effort, by using a bundt pan, you could try your hand at a bird seed wreath, which would be lovely on a balcony or in a garden. It also makes a nice handmade gift.
There are countless other projects that reuse everyday objects like cartons and bottles if you get creative. I am making these darling owl bird feeders with my preschool class this winter, and can’t wait to hang them in the park. This crafty birdfeeder uses everyday items like plastic caps and cartons to construct an efficient means to feed winter birds. With a few more supplies, you could construct a minimalist self-feeding birdfeeder that is every bit a work of art! A few pieces of scrap wood and a glass bottle are wired together to create a lovely milk bottle birdfeeder. These are just two ideas out of many to fashion a birdfeeder of your very own, using materials already on hand. Try assembling several different kinds and turn it into a lesson on observation to discover which birds prefer which design. The birds will love it, no matter what!