Although bird watching became a meme and newfound hobby for many people during the pandemic, it is such an enjoyable activity for all ages, and there are plenty of ways to increase the likelihood that your home will attract birds. As the weather continues to decrease in temperature, offering food to our feathered friends is an excellent way to show kindness to our planet.
While I was searching for homemade bird feeders that would be genuinely good for the environment, I came across this article in the Audubon blog by Michele Berger. There are four suggestions within this article that are relatively easy to create for people of all ages.
1: Citrus Feeder: For this style of homemade bird feeder, you need some bird seed, a citrus fruit (grapefruit and larger oranges are great), string, and a knife. To make this one, you will cut the fruit in half with the knife, scoop out the fruit, and poke holes for the string to pass through. Once the string is tied to the citrus half, it needs to be filled with bird seed. Because these are so simple to make, it's possible to make several of them. Just be sure to hang them away from each other to prevent disease.
2: Pinecone Feeder: For this bird feeder, you need a pinecone, a knife, bird seed, string, and some nut butter of your choice (preferably the ones that have limited amounts of additives). You will push globs of the nut butter into the pine cone, roll it in bird seed, and then tie it to a tree. As with the citrus feeder, it is best to hang them farther apart if you make several.
3: Cranberry and Popcorn Feeder: This is one that is traditionally made in late November or early December to celebrate the holiday season, but it can be made any time you can find cranberries. To make this style of feeder, you will need plain popcorn seed that has been popped, cranberries, needles, and thread (natural fiber thread made from cotton or wool is more environmentally friendly, but other threads work too as long as they are removed once the food has been eaten). String the thread through the needle and tie a knot at the end. You can choose to either leave the thread hanging with a tail or doubled up; for young children, tying a knot close to the end of the needle can be helpful as well. Once you have your needle threaded, you can string alternating cranberries and popcorn together on the string. You will want to leave some blank thread at both the beginning and end of your string to make it easier to hang.
4: Milk or Juice Carton Feeder: If you want something a bit more sturdy, using a milk or juice carton is an excellent way to make a bird feeder. You will need an empty and clean milk or juice container, bird seed, knife, and string. Wash out the container completely, and leave it to dry. Once it is completely dry, you can cut into two sides of the carton. You are making a little flap that hangs down on each cut side. Although you can leave the entire piece that was cut from the side hanging, it is probably easier to trim some of it off to leave a smaller "stoop" for the birds to stand on. Once it has been cut and filled with bird seed, you can attach the string to the feeder to hang it up.
For more precautions about feeding wild birds, it may be helpful to read about the types of fats that are acceptable for birds. There are many homemade bird feeder recipes that may not be truly safe for birds.
If you are feeling extra ambitious and crafty, there are free bird feeder plans available through Birdwatching Bliss. There are so many styles to choose from, and it is certainly a real world example for getting in some scientific observation once it's completed.
How often do you watch the birds? What was your most exciting bird sighting? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.