When I was a little girl, my mom had a red plastic bird feeder that she kept full of bird seed all winter long. She hung it in the large bush adjacent to our living room window, and all we had to do to watch the birds was sit down on the couch.
I remember sitting there for hours, counting cardinals and identifying other birds as they made tiny footprints in the snow.
A few years ago, we got an awesome squirrel-proof bird feeder, and Joe erected a twelve-foot pole in our front yard so that I could see it from the living room window. It's quite a sight. On one side, he mounted the seed feeder, and on the other side, he mounted a squirrel-proof suet feeder (that is not raccoon-proof, but that is a story for another day).
Anyway, since that time, we have enjoyed feeding the birds.
I got the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, and Grace and I have spent many mornings watching the feeder and identifying birds. We know a titmouse from a nuthatch and a wren from a finch. They're fascinating creatures.
I am taking part in a 40-day blog series on the The Jesus Storybook Bible, each day highlighting one of the stories from the book along with a hands-on activity that relates. This is the activity that goes along with the chapter called “The Singer."
"The Singer" is really the story of the Sermon on the Mount. It talks about how people came to see Jesus, but they were worried about their lives. We know something about worry and anxiety here at my house.
Jesus said to the people (I paraphrase, of course.), "See the birds? Do they worry about where their next meal will come from?" and of course, the answer is no, they don't. He went on to talk about the fine clothes of the flowers and how they don't worry either.
"But aren't you so much more important to God than the birds or the flowers?" he asks.
And of course, we are.
This has long been one of my favorite passages in the Bible because I worry. About a lot of things, especially finances.
But aren't you so much more important to God than the birds?
I get it. It's tough to believe, but I get it.
Anyway, so this craft. The girls and I have talked before about how we can be the hands of God in many situations, and in this craft, we are feeding the birds to help God's work. Even though it is spring, there is still not a lot outside for them to eat, and we like to watch them come to eat our food.
DIY Pine Cone Bird Feeder Craft
- Pine cones - We had one very, very large pine cone and a bunch of smaller ones. The smaller ones worked best, but Grace had a really good time with the huge one, so use whatever you have.
- Yarn or string
- Peanut butter
- Bird seed - Our birds are particular to black oil sunflower seeds, so that's what we provide.
- A paper plate
- A butter knife
1. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Start by tying the yarn around the pine cone and knotting it. Only after tying the yarn may you proceed to step 2. (Forget to tie one, and you'll see why it is so important. It is a giant mess to tie the yarn on after it's been all peanut buttered up.)
2. Smear peanut butter all over the pine cone.
Grace used her knife very gently and applied peanut butter individually to the leaves of the pine cone. (Are they called leaves? What else would they be called?) Allie just globbed it on.
3. Roll the peanut buttered pine cone in bird seed.
Different techniques, same result
Um, that's it.
Not much of a craft to describe it, but this kept my kids busy for an hour.
That is, until this happened, and then I scooped up all the materials and put a hasty end to the crafting.
Here are all of Allie's finished pine cones:
And Grace's huge one:
4. Hang your pine cones outside where birdies will find them.
We let ours "dry" overnight, but I don't think that mattered much.
Most of the pine cones are in out of the way places that we can't see from the house, so we hung three on the suet feeder that hangs right by the front window. We wanted to see which birdies eat from the pine cones.
I have a feeling that the chickadees will be the first ones to venture to them. Chickadees love peanut butter. We have peanut butter cakes in the suet feeder, too.
All the leftover seeds and peanut butter were muddled together in the paper plates, so we threw that out in the yard for the ground feeders like the cardinals, wrens, and juncos.
And the rotten squirrel whom we've nicknamed Chunker. I'm sure he and his comrades will enjoy the peanut butter and sunflower seeds in the yard, too.
Other books to go with DIY pine cone bird feeders:
- National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Birds - This gorgeously photographed book is from National Geographic, so you know it has to be good. It's packed full of 100 birds and bird photos, and it has lots of awesome information, but not so much as to overwhelm little brains.
- National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America - My absolute favorite field guide to birds of North America is from National Geographic, and this is the kids' version. It's very well done and packed full of real photos and awesome facts about the 150 most common North American birds.
- Birds, Nests, and Eggs - This simple book focuses on only 15 different birds, but they are the most common ones most North American readers will find in their backyards. It also includes detailed descriptions and illustrations of their nests and eggs, perfect for identifying found objects.
- The Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs - We love this book! It has buttons to press where you can actually hear the bird songs as you see their pictures. Includes 12 of the best-known North American bird species.
- Bird-Watching for Kids: Bite-Sized Learning and Backyard Projects - This one is for kids ages 8-14, so you know it's at a higher level than those above. It's an awesome activity guide that will have kids watching and identifying birds all over.
- The Burgess Bird Book for Children - This is a Charlotte Mason standard, and for good reason. It follows Peter Rabbit as he learns about many different birds, their lives, habits, nests, and more.
- Albert - We love this book because it's about a man with sensory and anxiety issues. One day, he sticks his arm out the window the check the weather - and a cardinal builds a nest on it. It's a wonderful story.
- Feathers for Lunch - I have always enjoyed this book about a cat who is looking for a bird for lunch. Spoiler: he gets only feathers for lunch, but he learns about 12 common North American birds in the process.
- George Flies South - This is a charming story about a little birdie who's not ready to leave his nest yet when a big gust of wind comes along and blows him out. It's a gentle and delightful story that your kids will talk about for a long time.
- The Birdwatchers - A little girl and her grandfather go birdwatching together, and he tells her stories. At first, nothing happens, but then they discover great things. They actually use binoculars in the book!
- Mama Built a Little Nest - I love this book because it brings real, honest science to preschoolers and early elementary kiddos. The book uses rhymes to tell about the actual nests made by different kinds of birds - different locations, different materials, and different shapes.
- The Busy Tree - This beautiful book is perfect for binoculars because it encourages children to study everything that's going on in and around a big tree. There are ants, chipmunks, a spider, a ladybug, and even grubs, and of course respiring leaves, winding roots, and waving branches. I really love this book.
- Feathers: Not Just for Flying - This is another non-fiction book, and this one reads more like non-fiction than poetry. It's full of beautiful illustrations of feathers, and it explains what the different feathers do, from keeping birds warm or cool to helping them swim to protecting them from the sun.
- A Nest is Noisy - This beautifully illustrated book talks about all kinds of nests, not just birds, and there are lots of details to delight elementary age kids.
Visit My Mundane and Miraculous Life for activities for the other chapters in The Jesus Storybook Bible.