Nature Connection #4 – Feed the Birds!

Mid- to late Winter is a hard time for birds. As winter drags on and plants remain dormant, their available supply of seeds becomes depleted. Birds require a lot of food to maintain their high metabolism. Flying takes a lot of energy! Birds are always looking for something to eat.

You can be a grocery store for the birds by supplying them with bird seed! There are plenty of commercially available bird feeders. Some dispense a special type of seed, like nyjer seed, which is a favorite of birds from the finch family (including goldfinches). Cardinals like sunflower seeds, and woodpeckers love suet blocks. Special holders for suet blocks (which contain solidified fat and a mix of seeds) are available at most stores.

If you don’t have any feeders, or want to see if you can attract birds before you spend any money on feeders, make your own! You don’t even need to have trees or bushes in your yard. Even if all you have is a patio, and you live in an apartment, you can still attract birds.

Some birds, like doves, are ground feeders. They love seed that has just been spread on bare ground or even concrete.

The easiest way to make a bird feeder is to use pine cones. Pine cones can be purchased, or you can look for pine trees and just pick up your own! They don’t have to be big to serve as feeders.

Here’s all you need:
Pine Cones (any size)
Peanut Butter (smooth works best)
Bird Seed (any type)
String or yarn (As many footlong lengths as you have pine cones)

1. Place the seeds in a bowl.
2. Tie the string or yarn onto the top of the pine cone, leaving enough length to tie it to a branch or railing when you are finished.
3. With a knife or spatula, smooth the peanut butter onto the pine cone, pushing it back into the crevices of the cone.
4. Roll the pine cone in the seeds, pushing down so that the seeds adhere to the peanut butter.
5. When the pine cone is covered with seeds, set it aside.
6. Repeat the procedure until all cones are filled with peanut butter and covered with seeds.
7. Take the cones outside and attach to tree branches or bushes around your yard. If you don’t have trees or bushes, you can hang the cones from guttering, railing or fences. You can also attach the cone to a coat hanger and hook the hanger onto anything in your yard, or even the eaves of your roof.

Now, watch for birds. All it seems to take is one of them finding the food, and a whole flock of them will visit your yard or patio as long as they find something to eat there. 

You will find that watching the birds on the pine cone feeders, or scrabbling around on your patio is relaxing! You have become part of the birds’ cycle of life!

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