Winter is a tough season for wild birds. Natural food sources such as insects and berries are scarce, and they need lots of energy-rich food to maintain their fat reserves, which are called-upon most when temperatures drop. Providing a winter food source for birds is not only a great way to help your local wildlife; encouraging birds to visit your garden will supply you with plenty of interest during the winter months.
You can buy a wide variety of bird seed and feeding balls to keep your feathered friends happy, but making your own homemade bird feeders is simple, low-cost and a lovely activity for the kids. Here’s how.
You will need
Lard or suet
Empty, clean yoghurt pots or disposable cups
Wild bird seed, oats, breadcrumbs, sultanas, currants, unsalted peanuts (you don’t need all of these, a mixture of any is fine)
Melt the lard or suet in a saucepan, then add to your dry ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed. Supervise children very carefully while doing this, I let mine do some mixing but handle the heating and pouring myself to avoid any risk of burns.
Fill the pot with your food mixture, making sure to pack it down quite tightly, then put it in the fridge to set – this can take quite a while so we tend to leave ours overnight.
Tie a large knot in the shorter piece of string (this will be the bottom) and use the string at the other end to hang it up outdoors. Remember to position your feeders where you can see them from the house and out of the reach of cats.
Once your homemade bird feeders are in position you could try making a diary of the variety of bird visitors they receive; this is a fun extension of the activity for kids and also a nice way to keep their interest in the garden going over the winter months.
Do you think you’ll have a go at making your own bird food? What do you use to encourage birds to visit your garden?
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