by Sarah K. Grundy and images by Jenny Cox, Marian Parsons, Preschool Inspirations, Julia Watkins, Maria's Place
Deck your yard with decorative home made bird feeders this winter, and bring all the birds to your yard! The joys and benefits of this simple craft are many. Bird feeders help keep birds strong amidst the cold, and crafting them has been said to inspire environmental stewardship and a greater appreciation for nature. This is so much fun to do together!
Here are a few different ways you can make bird feeders with the items you have at home, along with special tips for attracting red cardinals and blue jays!
Pine Cone Bird Feeders
Who else feels nostalgic about pine cone bird feeders? Grab your loved ones, a basket, and begin foraging for pine cones in the neighborhood! Eastern White Pines are excellent trees because of the long stem attached, also called the peduncle (the part of the pine cone that attaches to the tree.)
- Wash and dry the pine cone.
- Tie a knot around the stem (peduncle) using hemp twine.
- Use a popsicle stick or butter knife to spread peanut butter around and under the scales of the pine cone until fully coated!
- Fill a piece of biodegradable parchment paper with a variety of seeds, peanuts, fruit, jelly. Adding mealworms is said to attract the greatest variety of bird species!
Cookie Cutter Bird Feeders
Make good use of your cookie cutters and create ornate bird feeders! Here’s how:
- Melt a sturdy plant-based healthy fat (like peanut butter) in a pan.
- Stir through bird feed, or bird-friendly seeds.
- Pour mixture into cookie cutters and allow to cool.
- Complete by creating a hole and tying hemp twine in a loop to hang.
If you don’t have cookie cutters you can reuse an old Seed bottle (half of the cardboard shell), or any other leftover bottle rather than adding it into the recycling bin!
Pumpkin Bird Feeders
If pumpkins are left for too long they can begin to rot. Reduce waste and put your squashes to good use by turning them into bird feeders! Here's how:
- Scoop out the center.
- Add a hearty variety of seeds, grains, nuts and fruits.
- String them to a tree for a beautiful functional decoration.
You can use most seeds, fruits, and grains from your pantry for your bird feeders, but if you’re looking to bring specific birds flocking to your yard, here are a few tips:
- Blue jays will always keep coming back for more if you’re good to them. Jays love cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and black oil sunflower. Attract these beauties with dark berries, such as mulberries, elderberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Blue Jays also appreciate an assortment of small fruits like cherries and wild grapes, along with peanuts, safflower, striped sunflower, and sunflower hearts and chips.
- Red cardinals love sunflowers, apple slices, fresh berries, grape jelly, and can’t resist a bird bath and shrubs for nesting!
- Finches love Nyjer Seed, also called thistle seed or niger, and Sunflower Seeds.
- Sparrows prefer grains, seeds, bugs and discarded food. The sparrows will enjoy your overflowing compost pile! Let them help out.
Share your homemade bird feeder ideas with us below! Make fun use of your leftovers, and use what you have! The birds and neighbors will thank you.