During the winter, birds have a hard time finding food and water. There are no insects, seeds, or worms available and water sources are often frozen or dry. Feeding birds during the winter helps preserve the wild songbird population, which is dwindling in many areas.
Making bird feeders can be a fun activity with kids, and they don’t have to be elaborate. It’s a good indoor winter project as well. Remember that once you start feeding wild birds, you need to keep it up all winter and gradually taper off in the spring (if you plan to feed them only in winter). The birds will come to depend on you and will suffer or even starve if you cut off their food supply abruptly. Here are some ideas for bird feeding.
Peanut Butter Pinecones
These look pretty hanging up. Make sure they are positioned so that birds have a place to alight nearby, such as a branch right below or in front of it. They can also reach down from the branch you hang the feeder on.
Gather some pinecones and attach yarn, twist ties, or other hangers to the wide end of the pinecone (the end that was attached to the tree). Then simply spread peanut butter on each pinecone, working it into the spaces. When it is covered in peanut butter, roll the pinecone in a seed mix that fits the kinds of birds in your area. Finally, hang it up.
Apples are enjoyed by a variety of birds. Cut an apple in half, nail it to a tree trunk near a branch (or leave part of the nail sticking out for a perch), and smear peanut butter on the apple. Sprinkle seed on it. Or make a hanging mobile out of apple slices spread with peanut butter and coated with seeds or dried fruits.
Make a bird cake with kitchen scraps. Dried fruit, nuts, cooked and raw vegetables, grains, and even some cheeses can be used to make a bird cake. Use animal fat such as lard as a binding material. You can use chicken, pork or beef fat from cooking. Heat the fat to a liquid and stir in the scraps. (Chop all leftovers to bird-sized bites.)
Spoon the mix into cups or other molds. Margarine tubs, yogurt cups, glass jars, and pretty much any container will do. Leave the container out overnight or refrigerate, then unmold the cake. Set it out on a tray. Instead of making a cake, you can also just smear the mixture onto tree trunks and branches.
Many birds love peanuts. Using upholstery thread and a sturdy needle, string peanuts in their shell to make a garland of nuts. Hang it from tree branches or from a coat hanger as a mobile.