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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