Looking for a fun indoor activity for your family when it is cold outside? Wintery weather is a great excuse for putting together a few simple bird feeders. The whole family can enjoy these bird feeder projects, and the end result will make the birds happy too!
In some ways bird watching is easier at this time of year – even though the weather is cold and some species have flown south for the winter, those that remain (or for whom where you live is south) are much easier to spot. Both feeders will attract birds at any time of year, so if it is summer in your part of the world, put a few together! In fact, a fun experiment you can try is to make these easy homemade bird feeders at different times of year and note what types of birds are attracted in the different seasons.
Having a bird field guide on hand is very helpful for identifying species. Ideally it should be one that is specific to your region. Keep a notebook with your field guide, and record the different types of birds you identify. See if you can catch a glimpse of your state bird!
Ask your children questions to stimulate discussion: What colors do you see most often on the birds that come to the feeders? Do some birds prefer one feeder over the other? Where do you think the birds sleep?
You can even have a little geography lesson – look in your field guide at the map of the range each bird you see covers. Help your children begin to learn state names. Use your imagination and make up stories of places the birds you see might have visited in their range. Have fun with it!
These bird feeder projects are very simple, but quite durable. Both of the bird feeders can be made by children as young as two years old, but are enjoyed by all ages. Most of the materials required will easily be found around your house.
Pinecone Bird Feeder
- pine cone
- peanut butter*
- bird seed
- aluminum foil
- Tie a long ribbon around the stem of the pine cone, about an inch from the point, to create a loop.
- Wrap the loop of the ribbon with aluminum foil to keep it clean while you spread the peanut butter.
- Use a knife to spread peanut butter into the crevices of the pine cone and all around the outside.
- Roll the pine cone in bird seed until it is completely covered.
- Wash your hands – they’ll probably be very sticky with peanut butter and seeds!
- Peel the aluminum foil off the ribbon and hang your pine cone bird feeder on a tree.
* Allergic to peanuts? Use sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter!
If you live in an area where you can not find pine cones, try this simple idea from Felicia at Go Grow Go – use empty toilet paper rolls instead!
Cheerio Bird Feeder
- pipe cleaner
- Slide cheerios onto a pipe cleaner, leaving empty space at each end.
- Bend the pipe cleaner into a shape – circle, heart, triangle, etc – and connect the ends by twisting them together. You can also make a garland by connecting circles on cheerios. Older children might enjoy making three dimensional shapes, using multiple pipe cleaners. Try a sphere or a cube!
- Tie on a ribbon and make a loop for hanging.
- Hang from a tree (ideally one you can watch from your window!)
If your child especially enjoys this project and is old enough to handle a needle and thread, try stringing fruit, nuts, or popcorn, like this project at Natural Kids.
BIO: Patti Brown and her husband homeschool their three children (ages 8-17) in central Texas, where it is very rarely cold! When she is not immersed in books with her children, she is in the kitchen creating, or on the computer writing. Patti and her daughter Abbie blog together at Blossoms and Posies where they share home skills, recipes and crafts. She also writes on her blog Joyful Mama, and is a contributing writer at Do Not Depart and Surviving the Stores.