Making bird feeders is a great activity for children of all ages and a wonderful way to enthuse them about wildlife, think about habitats and start to appreciate how changes in weather affect birds and other animals.
Birds are most in need of extra food in winter, but feeding all year round is beneficial too as food shortages can occur at any time. In winter birds need high fat food to help them survive the cold nights. During summer high protein food is more important.
Easy Hanging Bird Feeders
- Good quality bird seed
- Cookie cutter
- Parchment paper
- To understand that birds need the right kinds of food for survival and that seasonal changes can make finding food difficult.
- To appreciate that it’s not always easy for a bird to find food in it’s natural habitat.
- Mix the bird seed and lard together in the bowl, use just enough lard so the bird seed is fully coated.
- Place the cookie cutter onto parchment paper and coat lightly with lard.
- Spoon the mixture into the cookie cutter and press down to flatten.
- Place a straw through the mixture and leave in place; this is to make a hole to pass string through so the bird feeder can hang up outside.
- Leave to dry for a few hours or overnight. Place in the fridge for a few hours if necessary.
- Once the bird feeder is dry and hard, thread a piece of string through the hole and hang outside.
If bird feeders are put out at the same time each day, the birds may return and time their visits to match with when food is put out. Children could keep a bird diary and record when and which types of bird visit.
Ask the children to create a food chain with seeds and birds or earthworms and birds as the first two connections.
More bird feeder ideas
Tin can bird feeder
- Carefully wash a tin can and make a hole in the bottom. Tie string through the hole so the can be hung from a tree.
- Make a slightly more lard rich mix than for the hanging bird feeders and half fill the can.
- Hang from a tree outside and observe visiting birds.
- Another variation on this would be to use a plastic cup and place a piece of string into the mixture. Leave overnight and then remove the solid mix from the cup.
Pine cone bird feeders
For these simply place your lardy bird seed mix into the gaps in a pinecone and hang the whole pinecone outside.
Orange bird feeders
Cut an orange in half and tie string through the flesh so it can be hung from a tree. Fill with bird seed and hang outside!
- Be wary of nut allergies and purchase nut free bird seed where necessary.
- Remember to keep feeding vessels clean, and don’t let uneaten food accumulate. This is especially important in summer.
- Never put out loose peanuts, hard dry foods or large chunks of bread during spring and summer as these can be harmful to chicks.
- If making a tin can bird feeder be careful of possible sharp edges.
- Other good foods to put out for birds are: black sunflower seeds, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants and mealworms.