Feed the birds!
At this time of year food is scarce for birds, especially when the ground is frozen. Taking the time to leave out bird-friendly supplies will help them survive these tougher months.
Helping children care for birds is a great way to get them involved in the nature on their doorstep. And making bird feeders themselves strengthens that connection even further.
So we’ve got a couple of ideas for easy, cheap birdfeeders you can make using supplies from the garden and kitchen. And if you’re struggling for what gifts to give over Christmas, Hanukkah or any other winter celebrations, these make beautiful handmade presents too!
Tips for feeding birds
- Wild bird seed mix from the shops is obviously a safe option – it will have a blend of nutrients to suit different birds’ diets
- Nuts, seeds, fruits, cheese and uncooked porridge oats from your kitchen are all fine
- Avoid bread: it has no nutritional value to birds
- Desiccated coconut is a big no-no. It can swell in their bellies and kill them
- Don’t leave out runny fats which don’t set (like turkey fat). They can coat birds’ feathers and leave them unable to fly
- Only offer fresh food – mouldy foods can make them ill
- Make sure you don’t put too much out at once – leaving food overnight may attract rats
- Be consistent in putting out food. Birds will come to rely on it and go hungry if you stop
- Water to drink (making sure it doesn’t freeze over) will be much appreciated by your feathery visitors too.
Pinecone feeders are very simple to make, and are a lovely messy, sensory experience too!
You will need:
- A pine cone
- Seeds, nuts and raisins, or bird seed mix
- Peanut butter, lard, suet or other hard fat
- A mixing bowl
First, tie string around the top of the cone securely. Then mix all the other ingredients together so it’s nice and sticky. Finally, push the mixture into the pinecone so the seeds and fat coat it. Then hang your feeder in a tree in your garden or local park.
Orange peel cups
If you can’t find any pinecones, you can make the same nutty/seedy/fatty mixture and squish it into empty halves of orange peel – just eat the orange segments first! These ‘cups’ can be laid on the ground or stuck onto sticks as simple feeders.
Juice carton feeders
You can have all sorts of crafty fun with empty cartons! Adults will need to work alongside children for the cutting and perch creating. Here are the basic steps:
- Take a clean, empty carton and cut a ‘window’ in the side for the birds to feed from, about a third of the way up.
- Make a hole in the carton under the window, and one the opposite side. Take a pencil or short wooden stick and push it through. This will be the birds’ perch while they eat.
- Secure your carton at the top with string so you can attach it to a branch or washing line.
- Decorate however you wish: paint, stickers, collage (bear in mind your art might not last long outdoors if you don’t use waterproof materials)
- Add birdseed to the carton through your window.
There’s a lovely example of a juice carton owl bird feeder over at this crafty blog.
We hope you have fun looking after your local birds this winter. Let us know how you get on!