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Making a bird feeder

Filed Under: backyard science, kids

Here's a unique idea for a simple bird feeder that I learned about when I owned my feed store. It's a great project for the kids and a wonderful opportunity to discuss animals and nature with them. It's a fun and moderately messy way to keep a few kids busy doing something worth while.

Check out the details after the jump.

  • One or two 18oz jar of crunchy peanut butter
  • One five pound bag of the cheapest birdseed you can buy
  • One cup corn meal
  • Assorted LARGE pine cones (Red Pine are best)
  • String, twine or yarn
  • Paper clips (optional)
  • As many busy little hands as you need to occupy
  • Frozen treat sticks (optional)
  • A couple large bowls
  • A couple small spatulas
  • About one hour, but you can make it take longer.

  1. Start by having the kids use a spatula to get all the peanut butter out of the jar(s) and into a large mixing bowl. You can add some time to the project by telling the kids that the peanut butter needs to be stirred up really, super good.
  2. After they have beaten and blended the peanut butter until smooth, have them add in the bird seed a little at a time while continuing to stir the peanut butter. Have them add the bird seed using coffee scoops or tea spoons,. That adds to the fun.
  3. When the mixture reaches the point that adding more bird seed would not allow it to clump together, stop adding bird seed. Have everybody guess how many seeds are in the batch. Have everybody guess what kind of birds like peanut butter. Have everybody guess what kind of birds will grow from the seed.
  4. Next, take the frozen treat sticks and begin to smear the peanut butter mixture onto the pine cones. Be sure the kids know how important it is to fill all the crevices of all the pine cones (birds like that you know).
  5. Once the pine cones (and kids) are sufficiently covered in peanut butter, have the kids place the pine cones into a large pan or bowl which holds the corn meal. Have the kids scoop the cornmeal with their hands and pour it over the peanut butter covered pine cones. They need to pack, push, roll and rub every pine cone until all the peanut butter is covered with corn meal.
  6. Finish by having the kids put a string on each pine cone by tying it around the widest end of the cone under the last row of flutes. You may add a paper clip hook if you like. Now, hang those cones up in your trees and watch to see who comes to dinner. You may need to explain to the kids that it takes a while for birds to find these things. For a slightly different look at this fun idea check out this link.
Let the kids do as much of this project with their own hands as possible. That just increases the fun!

  • Carrie

    Hi Gary,
    I used a little different approach when my son and I made our pine cone bird feeder. We smeared the peanut butter onto the pine cone then rolled the pine cone in the seeds.

    I have also been emailed by concerned readers that peanut butter can stick to birds mouths and kill them. There is simply no evidence to support this. The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology has also responded to this concern in their online facts about birds and bird feeding.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  • Rachel

    Your bird feeder instructions really made me laugh, love the sense of humor. Anyway, I can't wait to buy all of the ingredients so that I can get my 5 year old started on this project, I just know she will love it!! As will my cats, who love pretending to catch birds from inside the house :) Thanks for the info!

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