Updated: Jul 21
I always thought that the only time to make bird feeders was in winter. Well, I have learnt that that is not the case! In early spring, when birds are migrating, they use lots of energy, too, so it's a great time to support them by putting a bird feeder in your garden or on your balcony. Overall, the best times to make and have a bird feeder is during temperature extremes, migration, and in late winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted. Most birds don't need our help in the summer.
Our bird feeder is so easy to make, it literally took us little more than 10 minutes from start to finish. And we even had all necessary ingredients in the house!
What you will need
Seeds - sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame work well, or you can buy a ready mixed bag of bird seeds in the shops
any type of nut butter (or even lard would do) - we used Cashew rather than Peanut butter, but either is fine.
String to hang up the feeder
A good spot in the garden where the birds will easily find the feeder, but not be disturbed my other animals – and the kids can see the bird feeder to watch the birds
We used a spoon and knife to spread the nut butter onto the toilet roll. We then put a variety of seeds into a tray and rolled the 'sticky' toilet roll in the mix so that the seeds would stay put. The children loved tasting the nut butter and then each of the different seeds - experimenting what they thought the tastiest were.
We didn't have any lolly sticks to add into the roll for the birds to perch on, and that would be something that we'd include the next time we make a bird feeder. And then we'd use a kitchen roll rather than a toilet roll for extra 'space' for the birds to come and feed.
Another version that I came across for bird feeders was making a mixture out of gelatine and bird seeds and putting this into biscuit cutters to set.
To make this variation you will need:
1 pack of gelatine
1/4 a cup of boiling water
3/4 a cup of mixed bird seed
Put the gelatine powder in a bowl and add a quarter of a cup of boiling water. Mix until the gelatine if fully dissolved. Then add a 3/4 cup of mixed bird seed and press the mixture into biscuit cutters. Place them on a tray or plate and put in the fridge to set for a few hours. Once the shapes have set, gently take them out of the biscuit cutters and thread a needle and string through the shapes to hang them up outside.
Top tips for making your bird feeder:
Experiment with different types of seeds - and see what type your local birds like best
Whatever 'sticky base' you use - make sure it is smooth (so don't use crunchy peanut butter), as it is much harder to stick the seeds to the toilet roll otherwise
Have fun and make more than one bird feeder in one sitting if you can - they are so quick to make that it seems sensible to make use of all the ingredients that are out anyway and make a few bird feeders to put in different places in the garden
DON'T hang your bird feeder half under the patio roof (as we did the first time around - duh!) - as the drops from the rain will wash off a lot of the seeds before the birds can get to them
If you are using a range of different seeds from your kitchen cupboards (rather than a bag of shop bought bird seeds), why not combine the exercise with a 'taste test' game for the kids? They have to close their eyes and you feed them different seeds for them to then guess (my three had loads of fun with this!)
Overall, we absolutely loved making our bird feeder.
It was a wonderful combination of pouring and spreading different ingredients and doing something useful for our local birds. It also continued to hold their attention each morning at the breakfast table, as they looked out for different birds coming to 'have a snack'. We never actually saw any birds, but the bird feeder was certainly popular with them, as after only a few days it was bare!
And then there was the additional fun we had taste testing the different seeds - which was an extra bonus ;-)
Join us next week for our session around getting kids involved in household chores – what worked for us, and what didn’t! And how 're-framing' them, taking turns in who does what and giving the kids a say in how to get involved made all the difference.
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