Get your kids to put down their PSPs and Wii controllers and introduce them to the beauty of nature and the joy of interacting with animals. A fun and simple activity you can do for kids of all ages is to make a bird feeder. Bird feeders are especially useful in urban areas where there aren't as many sources of food to go around; they're great in the suburbs as well. Place them near a window, and your children can bird-watch without even stepping a foot outside your house. Through the glass window, your kids can look at the birds closely and identify different species and behaviors without scaring them off. Read on to find out how to make a simple pine cone bird feeder kids as young as 3 years old can enjoy.
1. You will need the following materials:
- a large open pinecone, or several small pine cones
- lard or vegetable shortening
- a few feet of string, twine, or fishing line
- a mixing bowl
- a butter knife
- a pair of scissors
- a paper plate, pie tin, or cookie sheet
- ½ measuring cup
2. Tie a string around the stem of the pine cone or pine cones.
3. Mix half a cup of vegetable shortening or lard with half a cup of oatmeal in a mixing bowl. This amount is enough for one large pine cone or three small ones.
4. Using a butter knife, spread the mixture all over the pinecones.
5. Put the birdseed on the paper plate or pie tin, and roll the pine cone in the birdseed until the surface is completely covered.
6. Hang the pinecone outside a window or by the balcony of your apartment, and enjoy watching the birds come!
Mix in high energy bird food with the birdseed, such as chopped nuts, millet, sunflower seeds, or dried fruit cut up into small pieces.
You can also recycle your old Christmas tree and use it as a stand for several pine cone feeders by hanging them off the branches. You can even attach other food items like stale bread or donuts, plants with berries, or sprigs from local shrubs. Get several strings of cranberries and popcorn and drape them all over the tree to achieve the aesthetic effect of a Christmas tree and for easy edibility for the birds.
Replace the pine cone feeder after a day.
If there is no nearby source of water such as a brook or pond, provide a small birdbath or fountain with fresh water.
Late fall is usually the best season to attract birds using bird feeders. There are plentiful food sources in the spring and summer; during these times, your pine cone feeder might go unnoticed.