Summer is a great time to get kids out and into nature. Teaching children the importance of different plants and animals to the ecosystem during a hiking or camping trip creates a lifelong bonding experience.
As parents, there are many ways we can use opportunities to teach our kids about wildlife but also show them how to help creatures that live in our area. Some species of birds, as an example, rely upon humans a lot for a major part of their diet. Here are some easy bird feeder ideas that you can do along with your kids:
As Easy As Sugar and Water
Many department, agricultural and home stores sell high quality hummingbird food and feeders. While it is hard to make a homemade hummingbird feeder, it is surprisingly simple to make your own hummingbird food at home. The best part is all you need is some pure cane sugar and water! The recipe will call for 1 part sugar/4 parts water ratio. Estimate how much water you will need, depending on the size of your feeder. Measure out the water so you know how much you have (8 cups, 6 cups, etc.). Then, boil the water and pour it into a refrigerator safe container. Next, measure and stir in the sugar (2 cups, 1.5 cups, etc.). Once mixed, place in the fridge until it is completely cooled down. Finally, pour into hummingbird feeder and wait for the tiny little birds to arrive.
One note, do not add food coloring of any kind to the mix! Although these birds are known for being attracted to red and purple colors, food coloring can actually ferment if left out for too long. This can cause harm for hummingbirds and can even be deadly. Hummingbird feeders in themselves are colored properly to attract the birds enough already.
Peanut butter and Pinecones
For larger birds, you will want to make feeders that will hang from either a bird feeding pole or a nearby tree. One type of homemade bird feeder idea that a wide variety of birds love, is peanut butter pinecone feeders. These are not only fun to make, but provide an opportunity to get outside and can also be considered crafty as well.
Process of Making Pinecone Feeders
First, take the kids outside and have them round up a bunch of pinecones. Collect as many pinecones as you have places to hang the feeders. Around 4-8 is probably doable for most children. Also note, the longer the pinecones, the better able the birds will be able to access them. Bring all of the pinecones inside. Pre-cut twine or string into at least 2 feet pieces. Take the string and tie it off at the top of the pinecone. The other end will be tied on the bird pole or the tree to create a hanging feeder. Just make sure the string is long enough so that squirrels and chipmunks that are on the branch can’t access the pinecone and steal all of the food off of it before the birds get to it.
Next, using a spatula or spoon, allow the kids to cover the pine cones in peanut butter. Make sure that all of the underparts of the pinecone are covered too! On a large dinner plate spread your favorite kind of bird seed onto it so that bird seed is entirely covering the plate. Next, allow each child to come over and roll their pinecone with the peanut butter on it so that birdseed entirely covered the pinecone, with the peanut butter serving as the glue. After this, you are ready to go hang your bird feeder outside and watch as all kinds of birds eat off of it.
Something to note, this type of feeder is better reserved for early or late summer, fall or winter as peanut butter tends to melt easily in intense heat or sun.
Cookie Cutter Bird Feeders
Round up your favorite cookie cutters or let the kids go to the store to big some out. While there, grab a back of your favorite birdseed and gelatin mix. Follow the directions on the gelatin box on how to prepare the mix. Typically, this simply requires mixing the gelatin with some boiling water. Once mixed, pour in some birdseed (typically 3/4 of a cup per gelatin packet) and mix all the ingredients together.
Thoroughly mix and then spoon into the cookie cutters. Allow them to completely harden, or even better put them in the fridge overnight to speed up the process. When hard, poke a hole with something sharp and thread a heavy-duty string to use as your hanger. Lastly, hang the feeder at the window or on your favorite tree branch. The kids will be able to help with all aspects of this craft, except for using the need or sharp utensil.
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 4 Cups Water
Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.
Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.
Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.