Fuelling the feathered: how to make bird feeders

Sometimes our birds just need a little extra help. Let's show them some love this winter with our two homemade feeders.

4 mins read

You can find more information on how to protect our wild birds during the winter here.

Every winter when I was a child I made bird feeders from pinecones and peanut butter, and I was delighted – albeit, ignorantly – when birds would come to my window for a feast.

Image credit: audubon.org

I say “ignorantly” because those pinecones were not the feast I had envisioned. They were a lifeline. Without bird feeders during those harsh months, the birds at my window may not have survived the winter.

There is something captivating about watching birds play in your garden (or flit across your suburban flat window) in summer. But in the winter, their lives become much tougher. When the days get cold and birds need more energy, the distinct lack of food can often prove fatal.

The RSPB discuss food scarcity on their website:

“The greatest test for wild birds in winter is to find food and ensure they eat enough of it to build – and maintain – adequate fat supplies to store on the body and ‘burn’ for energy.

“This becomes even more difficult in hard weather when snow and ice hide once easily available natural food. Water birds may be forced to leave iced-over lakes and rivers; the ground becomes too hard for birds like thrushes and lapwings to probe and natural food like berries, acorns and seeds is buried.”

To help, people can leave fattening and energising food out for when nature just doesn’t quite cut it. Here are two (safe) bird feeder crafts for those chilly winter months.

Pinecone feeders

You will need:

  • Lard
  • A small amount of grated cheese
  • Birdseed (make sure it is safe here)
  • Pinecones
  • String

This is an incredibly simple make, and very similar to my own childhood creations. Simply tie the string around the pinecones, and mix the lard together with the birdseed and cheese (use around one-third fat to two-thirds mixture). Then, pack the seed mixture onto the pinecone to create a fat ball. Hang these outside for the birds to enjoy!

The lard and cheese are welcome additions to birds’ winter diets. It provides them with enough fat and nutrients to survive a harsh winter.

Image credit: Emma Halliday/Brig News

Apple feeders

You will need:

  • Apples
  • Birdseed of your choice (make sure it is safe here)
  • String (optional)

Again, easy-peasy. Grab an apple, core it, and cover in birdseed. Sunflower seeds are a good choice: they are popular with many species of bird, and full of oils and calories. Apples will provide water and energising sugars for when your local birds are cold and tired.

Tie the apple up with string and hang, or simply cut in half and leave on an outside surface. Voila!

Image credit: Emma Halliday/Brig News

You can find more information on how to protect our wild birds during the winter here.

Featured image credit: countryliving.com

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Arts Editor for Brig Newspaper. BA (Hons.) English Studies student at UoS.

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