Today’s blog post is all about backyard birds! Many of our favorite nature spaces are becoming restricted, which means a lot of our outside time is spent walking around neighborhoods or being in our yards. Just like anything, if we don’t find new ways to explore and appreciate these spaces, they can start to feel old. One way to explore a new space is to focus on a single part of it. Today I will talk about how you can focus on the bird activity that is going on around you and an easy craft to help attract birds to your yard!
Birds and Blooms magazine put together a wonderful list of five applications you can download onto your phone to help identify different bird species by their calls:
Another great tool for helping us identify birds before we are able to get a clear visual of them is the habitat we are observing them in. Just like other animals, different species of birds prefer to feed and nest in different habitats. Sometimes this is a very broad difference, such as shore birds vs. woodland birds, but other times this can be the difference between a bird observed in a conifer vs. a neighboring deciduous tree.
The different plants that are in our backyards and neighborhoods will greatly influence the species that we find. As long as your yard has or is near good sources of food, water, and shelter, it can be a suitable home for local bird species! Another great resource from Birds and Blooms is this article outlining different habitats and cues from habitats that can help in bird identification:
Here is an article from New York Audubon highlighting different plants and the birds that are attracted to them:
Pinecone Bird Feeders
Pinecone bird feeders are easy and fun for everyone in your family to attract birds to your yard. Spring is here and with that, comes many bird species who have been spending the Winter in warmer climates! Hanging a pinecone bird feeder will encourage birds to stop-over in your yard for a quick snack, and it could even result in them making a nest somewhere nearby! During migration, you might even see some fly throughs that aren’t usually common in the area.
The first step of making a great pinecone feeder is scoping out a great place to hang it. When thinking about the feeder location, you’ll want to consider if it’s an easy spot for squirrels to get to, the number one bird feeder robbers. To avoid squirrels, try to find somewhere high off the ground that doesn’t have anything that a squirrel can climb onto or around. It’s also really fun to hang the feeder outside a window; this way when you’re indoors, you can see who is snacking outside. Once you’ve found the perfect location, you are ready to make your feeder!
What you will need:
First things first, measure how long you will need your string to be so you can easily hang it from the spot you chose. Once you’ve done this, cut your string and tie it to the top of your pinecone. You can go ahead and wrap it in the notches of the pinecone to keep it nice and secure. To avoid making a mess, you’ll want to put about half a cup of peanut butter in a bowl (you can also substitute a quarter cup of peanut butter with shortening to conserve resources). The peanut butter will act as the glue for our seeds and Cheerios. You’ll also want to have another bowl prepared with either seeds or Cheerios (any sugar-free cooked cereal will work, i.e. cornflakes).
Once your bowls are ready, the rest is easy! Slather on your peanut butter mixture all around your pinecone. You can roll the pinecone in the PB, or you can use a knife to spread it across the top. Make sure you get enough on there so that your seeds (or whatever you use) will stick to the sides with ease. After you’ve gotten your peanut butter caked onto your pinecone, you can begin to press the seeds onto the sides of the pinecone. They should easily stick to the peanut butter. The seeds will cover all sides of the pinecone and once they do, you will know you are done!
If your peanut butter seems a bit runny and you’re afraid of your seeds sliding off, you can always stick your feeder in the fridge for a little while to firm it up. Once you are happy with your final product, go ahead and hang it outside. Soon enough you will start to see happy birds exploring the new food source!
Please be sure to keep an eye on your pinecone feeder and properly dispose of the pinecone and string when all the seeds have been eaten (or reseed it)!
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