As cold weather approaches, many wild birds begin their migratory flight in search of food and warmer climates. Others remain despite the depleted food supply. Nourish avian friends with a bird feeder made out of large pinecones, peanut butter or suet, and birdseed. The wreath, pictured here as balsam, can be assembled from boughs after recycling your Christmas tree. Children will enjoy this simple and educational project, which will attract many birds to your yard for many enjoyable hours of bird-watching.
When gathering on a nature walk, use large, open-form pinecones such as those from the Ponderosa pine. Natural peanut butter is best suited for this project because birds, like people, do not benefit from preservatives and added sugar. Always coat the pinecones with a mixture of birdseed and peanut butter, because peanut butter alone can cause birds to choke. Use suet only in the winter when cold temperatures will keep it from going rancid. The type of birdseed you use depends on the birds you wish to attract. A wild birdseed mix often contains black sunflower seeds. Mixes that include niger seeds and millet attract smaller birds such as finches. Birdseed is available at hardware and pet stores.
Place feeders in an area with adequate coverage and a nearby water source. Hang them at least 5 feet off the ground and 8 feet away from squirrel springboards such as a deck railing. If you begin feeding birds in the winter, it is essential to continue feeding them throughout the season, because they will come to rely on you for food. Make sure to have a neighbor refill feeders if you plan on traveling.
For more information, contact the National Wildlife Federation.