Monday, February 13, 2012

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Alexis has been super interested in the birds in our yard lately so I decided to whip out an ol' classic project that I'm assuming just about everyone made at some point or another in their childhood. Pine Cone Bird Feeders! I thought these were a great classic learning tool and fun art project all rolled in to one.

Pine cones
Peanut Butter (or substitute, see below for ideas)
Bird seed (wild bird or small bird, usually available at pet stores or super stores)
Thick yarn or string
Small box or pan to work in

First we collected pine cones in the yard (the dog helped)
("Where do pine cones come from?")

 Then we went back inside and laid wax paper over the counters. We used a rubber spatula to smear peanut butter all over the pine cones then, in the flat box with bird seed, rolled the pine cones around. Alexis also continued to pour more seed on them while I spread the peanut butter on the rest of the pine cones.
To hang them, weave the string around either the top or bottom (whichever has a better spot to hold) segments and tie in a loop to hang.

Luckily our yard has this perfect little branchy tree that's right outside of our dining room window. Hopefully no animals eat these over night and there will be plenty of birds in the morning to admire. She's excited. This is a great activity for some science learning. She asked me "Why do we use peanut butter?" Because it's sticky and holds the seeds. "What do birds eat?" Nuts, seeds, plants. All great questions from a three year old's curious mind!

Okay, now what learned from this project:
1.  Pine cones are sharp. I must have forgotten this detail from my childhood so be careful, they have thorns.
2. Shake of, drop, smack, maybe even rinse with water before bringing inside. I thought I shook ours off well but two little buggy friends still managed to hitch a ride inside the house in the crevices of the pine cones (only a lady bug and a fly so nothing scary). I'm not fond of bugs so I'd probably just do this outside next time.
3. I know tons of kids are allergic to peanuts. There are other options for this project. Soy butter is a great one, it has a similar consistency to that of peanut butter so it will spread easily. Honey would be a good variation as well, in fact, we used a little honey in addition to our pb just to get more seeds to stick.

Have fun and happy bird watching! Will post pictures soon if we see any birds at our feeders :)


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