May 7, 2012

Make Your Own Bird Seed Feeder

My daughter is still young enough to run after birds like she believes with all her heart she’s going to catch one.

And watching her try is one of the sweetest ways I can think of to spend a few minutes late in the afternoon.

Recently, the two of us made some bird feeders to hang in the backyard.  It was a really fun, get-your-hands-messy sort of activity – and perfect for a toddler’s skills and attention span (although I think older kids would have fun with it too).

While we made the feeders, we talked about the sounds birds make, where birds live and – of course – what they eat.

P.S. In putting together our bird treat recipe, I read through some resources from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for ideas on safe and healthy things to feed wild birds. Here’s what we came up with:

You’ll need:
2 cups wild bird seed
1/4 cup peanut butter (I’ve seen other recipes that use gelatin instead of peanut butter to hold everything together. This might be a good alternative if you have allergies to deal with).
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup of water (more or less)
Twine or ribbon for hanging

Step 1: Mix the bird seed, peanut butter and cornmeal

Step 2: Add water until the mixture is the right texture. You’re shooting for something that feels like good sandcastle material: Not too dense, but not so crumbly that it won’t hold a shape. You might need to adjust ingredient proportions slightly until you get there.

Step 3: Form the mixture into shapes about ¾ of an inch thick. You can use cookie cutters here, but we just did freehand circles. Poke a hole in the shape that’s large enough to draw a ribbon through – and make sure it’s at least an inch or so away from the edge so that your birdseed cake doesn’t fall apart when you try to hang it.

Step 4: Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 35 minutes

Step 5: When completely cool, thread some twine or ribbon through the feeder, and hang for birds to enjoy.

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