Decorating for the holidays, birdy style

Jay in Snow Image by Dr. Joseph Valks

It is the holiday season. A time for decorations and festive foods. In most parts of the the northern hemisphere it is also a time for the food supplies to be buried if you are a bird or an animal. While you are about your holiday baking why not make some simple things to feed the feathered friends. And possibly a squirrel or two. I am of the “if you can’t beat them, provide them their own feeder” mindset.

A fun (although messy) feeder that kids can build involves wire, pine cones, peanut butter and birdseed. Buy bird seed from whatever store you shop at. Larger cities have specialty stores that will have better seed with less filler, otherwise you can get wild bird seed at most pet stores, grocery stores and many feed and grain stores. If you are in an area where pine cones are naturally found and they are not under 24 inches of snow take a walk in the woods and scavenge some from near your house. Otherwise you can usually get plain pine cones for building wreaths at craft shops and garden stores. Make sure the pine cones have not been sprayed with oils for scenting rooms. Some of these may be toxic to birds.

  1. Wrap the wire, a thin gauge, florist’s wire is fine (ribbon or string will work as well) around the top of the cone to provide a hanger.
  2. Stuff the pine cone with the peanut butter.
  3. Roll the cone in the bird seed. I try to stuff as much seed into the cone as I can.
  4. Hang from a tree or from a hook.
  5. If you’re not squeamish, buy some dehydrated meal worms from the pet store and roll some of the cones in them for the insect eaters.

Birds will come to the cone and feed on the seed (and meal worms) and the fat in the peanut butter will help provide energy on these cold, blustery days.

For feeding the squirrels I buy peanuts and cracked corn. I have provided the squirrels in my yard with their own platform so they will pester my feeders less. If I keep it stocked along with the bird feeders I don’t have as many problems with the squirrels pestering my feeders and chasing the birds off.

Remember your wild neighbors this season and they will return the favor by providing beauty and enjoyment to you.

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