Birds need steady food sources throughout the year to survive cold nights, harsh weather, raising young, and the hard work of migration. Any kind of bird feeder can be useful, and while there are many options available for feeders both online and in stores, you and your kids might enjoy making your own. Here are some simple feeders that can easily be made with household items!
Pine cone feeders
What you will need:
- peanut butter
- bird seed (any type)
This feeder is simple to make, inexpensive, and easily reused or composted when the seed on it is gone. You can find pine cones outside or might purchase them in craft stores.
Take a pine cone and gently brush off any lingering dirt.
Tie a string in a secure loop around the top of the pine cone, leaving enough to tie it to a tree or pole. Alternatively, use a pipe cleaner or twist tie.
Carefully spread a generous layer of peanut butter on the pine cone, making sure that the outside is coated well. Note: If you have peanut allergies to consider, try using Crisco.
Roll your pine cone in bird seed until it is covered well.
Using smaller seeds will ensure that seeds stick well, but mixed seed or black-oil sunflower seed will work too if you press the seed in well.
Hang your feeder on a tree branch or pole and watch the birds enjoy their winter feast!
*Note: Squirrels love this kind of feeder, so be sure to hang it somewhere it will be difficult for squirrels to reach like on thin branches high off the ground.
Bird seed cookies
These feeders are festive and easy to make.
What you will need:
- 2 cups bird seed (any type)
- cookie cutters
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- non-stick cooking spray
Spray your cookie cutters with non-stick spray to make the cookies easier to pop out.
Empty 1 package of unflavored gelatin into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let this sit for 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup of boiling water to the gelatin, stirring for a few minutes or until the gelatin is dissolved. This is the binder that keeps seeds together.
Next add 2 cups of bird seed to the gelatin and mix thoroughly.
On a tray or sheet of wax paper, lay out your desired cookie cutters. Fill the cookie cutters with the mixture and press into shape firmly. Make a small hole in each cookie with the skewer for the string.
Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the seed mixture to set. After setting warm to room temperature before removing the cakes from the pan. Carefully pop the cookies out of their molds and thread a string through the hole. Hang the ornaments from a tree, pole, or hook outside your windows and watch the birds devour them!
We’ll let you in on a little secret: plastic containers make great bird feeders. Our friends at the Chebeague Island School have made bird feeders out of re-purposed yogurt containers to great success.
It’s easy to make your own feeder using anything from a square milk container to a round yogurt container!
What you will need:
- medium-sized plastic container (milk, yogurt, juice, etc.)
- scissors or box cutter
- single hole punch or skewer
- thin wooden dowels or spoons
Wash out your desired container and let it dry completely. Then very carefully cut out several small holes along the sides near the bottom*. Make sure they are large enough for a bird’s head to fit inside but small enough that a bird will not be able to climb inside.
*If you are using a square container, you can cut one large opening in the side so that birds may perch and feed.
Punch two small holes about the size of your dowels on opposite side of your container just below the openings you have cut. Insert the dowels into these holes so that the ends of the wood stick out on both sides. These will serve as perches for the feeding birds.
Punch two holes at the top of your container and thread a string through in a large loop. Fill your new feeder with desired birdseed and hang near your house. Be sure to hang it somewhere where birds will have space to perch.
- Download and use the Feathered Friends lessons to help support learning and teaching through birds.