One of the sloppiest bird-treat projects, the pine cone bird feeder, is also one of the most successful.
It combines two foods that wild birds love, peanut butter and pinecones.
Wild birds are attracted to the tiny seeds that are hidden deep inside pinecones. You have probably seen the large, pale yellow seed of the pinyon pine, commonly known as a pine nut.
Birds love these but they are a little expensive for feeding birds.
The tiny, lightweight seeds of many other pinecones are also popular with foraging birds. The tiny cones produced by hemlocks will attract small birds like chickadees and titmice, while larger pinecones will attract grosbeaks, crossbills and jays.
Peanut butter could be considered the perfect bird food. It is high in fat and full of protein. These are food qualities that are important to wild birds any time of the year. This is especially true in the winter when birds really need a boost.
One drawback to feeding birds peanut butter on a regular basis is the cost. I usually buy the generic brands in those giant jars and I prefer chunky to smooth. I think the little pieces of peanuts give the birds a little extra to chew on, keeping them close to my bird feeders longer.
To stretch your peanut butter, mix it with corn meal. This is a low-cost product that is readily eaten by the same birds that enjoy peanut butter. Add cornmeal to your peanut butter over a period of days until you find a ratio that is accepted by the birds.
The pine cone bird feeder was the first of many bird feeder crafts that I have made with my kids. It is also one of their favorites. I like it for several reasons. It is cheap, easy to make, attracts many birds and the most important reason - it keeps my kids interested in backyard bird watching.
If you are looking for more ideas for bird watching with kids, click here.
To make a pine cone bird feeder, you will need pinecones, peanut butter, birdseed and string or wire. Tie the wire at the top before adding the peanut butter, it is less messy this way. Use a knife or spoon to push the peanut butter into all of the openings. Then roll the pinecone in your birdseed. Try to press the seed in to help it stick.
Now select a location, hang it and watch the birds flock to your new pine cone bird feeder.
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