While you may deal with this cold season by filling up on holiday treats and game day goodies, winter can be a lean time for Iowa wildlife. To help your feathered friends find a meal, take a few minutes to create one of these festive feeders for your yard, or make a fancy batch as a gift.
For this kid-friendly feeder, all you’ll need is some pinecones, peanut butter and your preferred birdseed. To start, brush any obvious dirt off your pinecones and slather them in peanut butter. For extra messy fun, kids can do this step by hand. Then simply roll the pinecone around in a bowl of birdseed until the surface is well-coated. String it up on a nearby tree and your no-fuss feeder is finished. This design also works with cardboard rolls from toilet paper or paper towels.
If you want to protect your peanut butter feeder a bit more, or just want a quick project for your workshop, try our simple peanut butter birdfeeder with a wire cage from Iowa Outdoors magazine.
If you have extra pumpkins or squashes left over from your holiday cooking, this is the design for you. Cut the gourd in half horizontally, so you have a top and a bottom. Proceed to hollow out both halves, but leave enough flesh for it to be sturdy. Next, poke a few small holes around the edges to string your gourd halves up by, fill them with your favorite birdseed and wait for visitors. This design also works with citrus rinds.
Put a sock in it
For this design, purchase small birdseed (like niger) so it can be removed through the material of the sock or hosiery you want to use. The coarser the mesh of the sock, the larger the birdseed the birds can get through it. Once you have the appropriate seed, cut off the foot of your sock and tie a knot in the new end. Pour your birdseed in, tie another knot at the top of the sock and string it up or lay the feeder on a windowsill for closer viewing. If you don’t have a spare sock, you can use mesh sleeves from produce like garlic instead.
For older kids or kids at heart, building a birdfeeder out of Lego bricks means you can change up your design any time with minimal mess and maximum creativity. Just build and fill! Be sure to wash all the blocks first, and wash them again any time you want to change your design. Master architects could even build an attached bird house or squirrel-proof cage for the feeder.
This design is perfect for bigger birds like blue jays and woodpeckers. All you need is pliers, an old metal Slinky, an old clothes hanger and some hot glue or twist ties. First, bend the hanger into a large circle, and use the pliers to make a hook on one end to close it. Thread this wire circle through the slinky, securing it every so often with dots of hot glue or the twist ties. Fill the secure slinky up with peanuts in the shell, and your wreath will be good enough to eat.
If it’s really cold out, this option can be a great way to feed the birds with minimal waste. Take a Bundt pan, fill it almost full of seeds, oatmeal, rice or whatever feed you want to use, add water, and leave it outside to freeze. Once it’s solid, bring the pan inside until the ice cake pops out, and string it up outside. Consider adding fruits like cranberries or orange slices for extra tasty color.
Suet is a birdfeed staple for good reason, and can be used with cookie cutters or baking pans to make lots of fun shapes. The fat-based feed will provide extra calories birds need in winter when food is scarce. To start, purchase suet from a butcher or grocer and render it until it is liquid and free of contaminants. The animal fat may need to be strained to remove traces of meat. Alternatively, you can use vegetable shortening or buy already-rendered suet from a birding store.
Next, melt the rendered suet with an equal amount of peanut butter and add in cornmeal and whole wheat flour. Mix well and pour into molds or cookie cutters to cool. You can also add in fruit (like raisins or dried cranberries), commercial birdseed, or certain kitchen scraps for more variety. Once solid, pop the suet cakes out of their molds and hang or place them outside.
For more ideas, check out our DIY Outdoors and In Your Own Backyard boards on Pinterest.