Bird feeders can be expensive, however. Luckily, there is no shortage of pine cones in nature and in most homes and centers, peanut butter isn't too hard to find, either. Add a few more things and some little hands to put it all together and you've got yourself a birdfeeder.
Here's a step-by-step guide:
First, gather your ingredients.
- pine cones (one for each child)
- peanut butter (figure one 16-ounce jar for about 12 pine cones)
- corn meal (about 1/2 cup per jar of peanut butter used. This is optional, but it adds nutritional value and keeps the peanut butter from being too sticky or runny)
- string, ribbon or yarn (about 2 feet per pine cone)
- something to spread the peanut butter with
- waxed paper
Next, tie string to the pine cone. Older children can do this alone, but if you're doing this with toddlers, do it ahead of time. It's a lot harder to do once you've got peanut butter and bird seed everywhere. :)
Place corn meal (optional) and peanut butter in a bowl and mix. If you're doing this with younger children, giving everyone a turn at mixing is a good way to keep everyone's attention and involvement.
The mix should look thicker and have lost its oily shine. This will make the peanut butter easier to work with and the meal adds nutritional value for the birds.
Place the birdseed in a container. Use a dish that has a bit of a lip or is deep so that spills will be prevented. Any birdseed will do, really. It's not necessary to use a type with smaller pieces. Cardinals and other colorful birds will be attracted to it if it has sunflower seeds.
Spread peanut butter on the pine cones. If using spoons, plastic spoons will probably break, so use metal spoons or something sturdy. Make sure to use the utensil to push the peanut butter deep into the crevices.
Roll the pine cones in the birdseed.
Lay the finished feeders on waxed paper until you are ready to hang them. This gives the added benefit of keeping hands clean. When you're ready to hang them, you can just wrap each one in the paper for carrying. They can also be wrapped up to send home and they won't stick too much when unwrapped.
Hang the bird feeder. Find a strategic location. Try to choose an area where you have seen birds "hanging out" before. Hang it near existing feeders or along a fence.
If you have many children doing this project and not many branches, you can put the feeders on one string and hang them in a row between two trees or bushes or along a fence.
Sit back and wait for the birds. It doesn't take long. I hung this feeder and it took about five minutes for Mr. Cardinal here to land on a nearby branch.
I think he's starting to figure out that some food is nearby...
Ah ha. There he's found it.
And a few minutes later, a European Starling finds the feeder, as well.