Treats for the Birds
During the warm months, berries, fruits and worms are plentiful and provide hearty sustenance for our fine feathered friends. Now that the ground is cold and maybe even frozen in your area, and many trees and bushes no longer have berries, the birds that did not fly south for the winter might be scrounging for food this time of year. Here are some fun ideas to spend time together as a family while feeding the neighborhood birds.
- Decorate a tree. Choose a tree in your backyard, at a local park or in the woods. Bring cranberries, popcorn, canned oranges and birdseed to decorate the tree. It’s best if you can just lay the items on the branches, which may be snow-covered. You could also use yarn or twine to tie the items to the branches, as birds can use this in building and fluffing their nests.
- Make peanut butter bird feeders. Collect pinecones and smear peanut butter on them. Roll the sticky pinecones in a pile of birdseed, then hang in the trees in your yard. If you can’t find pinecones, you can use toilet paper tubes instead; they won’t be quite as pretty, but they will suit the same purpose!
- Make suet cakes. Get some strips of suet, which is the fat that accumulates in a cow’s abdomen, from your butcher. Melt it down into a thick liquid consistency, then pour it into a bowl of whatever bird treats you have: dried corn, birdseed, dried fruit, cornmeal, rolled oats and nuts are some example. Once it’s mixed, your ingredients will have a moldable consistency. Pat this down on wax paper and use cookie cutters to cut out festive “cakes.” Make sure you leave a hole in the top so you can hang them with ribbon later. Let them harden, then tie to tree branches.
- Build a bird-friendly snowman. Keep the corncob pipe, but instead button nose and two eyes made out of coal, substitute dried cranberries for buttons, sunflower seed “hair,” suet cakes for eyes and perhaps a dried apricot for a nose. Stick branches in his sides for arms that will support your feathered friends.
- Make a window feeder. Set up a table or a hanging bird feeder outside one of your windows. This will not only keep the birdies fed, but it will also provide hours of entertainment for your family as you watch your guests dine.
No matter how you feed the birds, buy or borrow from the library a book that can help you identify common birds. A pair of binoculars, a camera, a sketchbook and some colored pencils will turn this into an educational activity that will help you and your kids while away the cold days of winter.
What types of birds roost in your area in the winter?
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These are great ideas! We’ve been wanting to see some beautiful birds out back. We were simply going to put out a bowl of bird feed but this is sooo much better.
I’m going to get a bird feeder soon 🙂 I miss my hummingbirds so I’m trying for some winter birds lol.
Those are some really great ideas! Out here in the desert, the trees may be losing their leaves, but the cacti are flowering, and the hummingbirds love it.
No matter where you are just hearing the sound of birds anytime of the day makes you feel closer to nature.
I find beautiful to see the birds flying.
I remember when the kids were little, making the peanut butter and seed pinecones. I have neglected the birds since the kids have grown. I will have to have the nephews comer over
For the first time in ages we finally near trees and birds.We are going to do the pb feeders. Also going to take the popcorn strings off the tree and then hang them outside too. We also save our hair bits of material and hang it in a bag so they can use it for their nests.
Very good ideas! My daughter loves watching the birds from inside the house. Would be nice to do something for them.
I love your article on feeding the birds. I do that also. The birds are so much fun to watch, plus they need food too. I have some beautiful pictures of red and blue cardinals. I also love feeding the humming birds.
I didn’t know they love peanut butter.
i love hearing the birds sing in spring time
I love birds, we have 4 parakeets in my house right now.
We love making the peanut butter ones for our birds. Def will try some of the others
My daddy so loved to watch birds. There were feeders, boxes, perches, hummingbird feeders, suet feeders, you name it and dad had them!!
I love the idea of a bird friendly snowman! So cute! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas. We love bird watching. 🙂
i enjoy hearing the bird chirp outside my window, will be getting some feeders for the winter, i’m sure food is hard for them to find 😉 thanks
gr8 ideas wil suerly try
I love watching the birds my mom has bird books and we watch the birds that come to her feeders.
Thank you for reminding everyone that animals are important too. these were some great ideas. thanks.
Thank you for all of the great ideas for feeding the birds this winter. I’m passing this on to my daughter to use in her kindergarten class.
We have lots of birds around all winter, and I’d love to feed them except for the fact the squirrels manage to get at every feeder I’ve ever put out! 🙁
Great ideas! I never thought to “decorate” a tree for the birds. My fave is the Cardinal. They are so beautiful!
me and my 3 kids feed the birds (and squirrels and rabbits and even a skunk!!!) almost every day…we feed them popcorn and the ends and crusts of bread…crusts of pizza too!! they love it and keep coming back!! i hate to see them out in the freezing cold 🙁