– Maya Angelou
As I write, the branches of trees are coating up with ice and I hear them cracking and falling in the woods. I know the ice will twinkle in the sun and will be lovely when the storm passes, but for now there is danger, especially for the birds. I made sure to trek out to keep the homemade bird feeders full this morning, despite the treacherous walking conditions. They seemed to chirp in gratitude as I made the rounds of my four feeding stations. I just hope we don’t have too many branches break, threatening their nests.
I like to help the birds in the winter as garden feeding helps many birds survive the winter. You might want to make a family project of feeding the birds in the winter, too. I know that for my family, feeding and watching the birds has given no end of pleasure and cause for discussion.
Here are some easy homemade bird feeders that are fun for the whole family to create. Just be aware that once you start feeding the birds they depend on you, so don’t stop feeding them until the spring.
Pine Cone Feeder
Coat with peanut butter and cornmeal; add raisins, cranberries, whatever you have around. Roll in mixed birdseed (optional). Hang or place in the yard.
Old Christmas Tree Feeder
Placing the Christmas tree in the yard at the end of the holiday season makes a great birdfeeder. Hang it with cranberries and pine cone feeders (above), spread peanut butter on branches, and because birds in winter need fat especially, hang suet from on it.
Coat a bagel with peanut butter, roll it in mixed birdseed and/or cornmeal, and hang it on a tree branch. Replace when gone.
Plastic Soda Bottle Feeder
You can buy ready-made versions of the soda bottle bird feeder, or you can make one yourself:
Make a hole on each side of the bottle about ¼ of the way up from the bottom of the bottle. Insert a stick through both holes to make perches; use one that’s long enough to stick out a few inches from each side of the bottle. The holes should be just larger than the size of the stick so the birds can get the seeds; or make separate feeding holes slightly above the perches. Fill with birdseed (use a funnel).
You may want to poke small holes in the bottom of the bottle to let moisture drain out. Tie a wire or small rope around the top of the bottle for hanging. You can also make this project upside-down, with the cap pointing down; thread wire through two small holes in the bottom of the bottle, then twist the two ends together to make a hanging loop.
String Cheerios (or other round cereal with a hole) on a string. Coat with peanut butter. Hang on bushes!
Great bird feed in winter also includes black-oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, mixed seed, cracked corn and fruit. Remember, birds need protein, fat and carbohydrates in the winter.