It's For the Birds

It’s not easy being a bird. Increasingly forced by habitat loss to forage ever further afield for their daily bread, competing with rodents, raccoons, and each other for an ever-decreasing food supply, falling victims to the modern perils of skyscrapers, highway traffic, and pollution, birds have got a lot to worry about. It’s no replacement for habitat, but birdfeeders can provide these aerial nomads with an extra little rest stop, and will definitely prompt visits from the neighborhood birds as well.

 Pinecone Feeders

You might remember this one from summer camp. Get a few opened pinecones (the bigger the better) and spread on a mixture of softened peanut butter, lard, or suet mixed with any of the following: seeds, chopped unsalted nuts, cornmeal, chopped dried fruits, berries, or grains such as millet or oats. Hang from a branch with a bit of twine. Since suet can go rancid in warmer weather, it’s probably not the best option for summertime feeds.

 Suet “Cakes”

On the other hand, in winter, suet is a great source of calories for birds, and has the added advantage of being able to harden into “cakes” when poured into a mold. Melt suet on low heat and mix in all-purpose birdseed until it’s well coated with the fat. Spoon mixture into whatever you’re using as molds and press the ends of a loop of twine into the middle of each cake. After the suet has hardened, remove the cakes and hang them up in tree branches.

 Soda Bottle Feeder

Start with a 2-liter plastic soda bottle. Drill or otherwise punch two very small holes on opposite sides of the bottle near the base and thread through wire or heavy twine for hanging. Drill or punch two larger holes on opposite sides of the bottle towards the cap and insert a length of dowel so it sticks out a few inches on either side. Repeat about 1/2” higher on other sides—so that dowels cross through the center of the bottle. Depending on what kind of birds you are planning on attracting, drill smaller holes about 1 ½” above each perch for smaller seeds, or larger ones about 2” above each perch for sunflower seeds. Fill about halfway through the bottleneck, recap, and hang outside.

Happy birdwatching!



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