The weather is still not cooperating with our Spring Break Plans. With all the snow, we are feeling sorry for the “poor little birds who are out in the cold!” So today we made pine cone bird feeders and Summer Suet, just perfect for our feathered friends.
Making pine cone bird feeders is a great project for the kids. On a nature walk last Autumn, we gathered pine cones for just such an occasion. Give the kids a pine cone, a butter knife and some peanut butter and let them go to town. Once the pine cone is covered in peanut butter, roll it in bird seed. Tie a piece of twine, jute, or hemp around the top of the pine cone and hang it in outdoors in a tree. One trick I use when tying on the twine is to make a slip knot with a loop large enough to fit around the top part of the pine cone, then pull it tight. It will slip easily between the petals. This keeps you from trying to tie a knot in the messy peanut butter. You can also tie the twine on before starting, but my kids couldn’t keep it out of the peanut butter.
While the kids were busy with their project, I made Summer Suet. The recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Kit. She is a bird lover extraordinaire. Kit also taught me much of what I know about gardening. And I love her to pieces. Making the suet is quite easy and inexpensive… I already had all the ingredients in my pantry except lard, which I only have when making pies. (With the cup of lard I have left over I better make a pie!)
Here’s the recipe for Suet: (Kit got the recipe from her Birds and Blooms magazine.)
1 cup lard
1 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)
2 cups yellow corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bird seed
3. Pour into a cookie sheet and smooth out with a spatula. Chill overnight.
4. Cut into squares that fit into suet basket.
5. Place unused squares into a freezer bag and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Here’s the printable recipe: Recipe for Summer Suet
You can buy suet baskets from places like Walgreen’s, birding stores and some garden stores. They run from $2 on sale to about $5. Watching the birds who come to our feeders is a favorite activity of our whole family. We get out the Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America and try to figure out which variety of birds have come for dinner: chickadees, finches and sparrows. When you make your own suet and bird feeders you can feed the birds for very little money and it’s a great way to invite a litttle nature into your backyard.