Home tweet home: Making a bird feeder

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Cameron Curran/NCC staff)

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Cameron Curran/NCC staff)

April 23, 2018 | by Raechel Bonomo

One of my favourite memories of my mother is of her sitting on the back porch of our new home, looking out into the backyard. With a cup of tea in hand, the sun lightly dancing on her face, she excitedly whispered to me, “Look! Do you see it?”

I looked out toward the yard, just weeks after our move, and just 20 feet in front of us was a bright blue bird having a snack.

We moved from my childhood home to the one my parents still live in to this day, bringing with us the excitement of a new chapter we were about to start as a family. While we got rid of many things during the move, there was one thing my mom held on to from our previous home.

I recall there still being unpacked boxes when she rushed into the backyard to hang up the modest, one-story bird house my sister and I made her — with help from dad — when we were five and six, respectively. The backyard visitors, thanks for the feeder, brought my mother, and all of us, so much joy as we watched the birds flutter in and out of the yard.

If you’re looking for an adult-assembly-not-required solution to attracting birds to your natural space, make a pine cone bird feeder by following the steps below:

Step one: Gather your supplies (Photo by NCC)

Step one: Gather your supplies (Photo by NCC)

Step one: Gather your supplies

Here’s everything you need to make a pine cone bird feeder:

  • pine cones (one per feeder — the more open the scales, the better)
  • newspaper
  • nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.), suet or shortening
  • string, such as twine
  • bird seed
Step two: Secure your feeder (Photo by NCC)

Step two: Secure your feeder (Photo by NCC)

Step two: Secure your feeder

Using about 25 to 30 centimetres, wrap one end around the pine cone and tie in place. Make sure there’s a good length of string left, as this is what you’ll use to hang the feeder up.



Step three: Cover the pine cone with nut butter/suet/shortening (Photo by NCC)

Step three: Cover the pine cone with nut butter/suet/shortening (Photo by NCC)

Step three: Time to get messy

Lay down some newspaper to keep surfaces clean. Then, using a spoon or your fingers, slather the whole pine cone with nut butter/suet/shortening.



Step four: Roll the pine cone in seeds (Photo by NCC)

Step four: Roll the pine cone in seeds (Photo by NCC)

Step four: See-d you later

Roll the pine cone in bird seed. Ensure the entire pinecone is covered.






Step five: For the birds

Step five: Install the bird feeder (Photo by NCC)

Step five: Install the bird feeder (Photo by NCC)

Now your bird feeder is ready to be installed. Hang it somewhere that is accessible for birds and in the open, so that you can spot the visitors as they feed. Hang it down about 30 centimetres and ensure it is tied securely.

In the 14 years that we've lived in our home, many birds have paid a visit to my parents’ backyard, including blue jays, cardinals, sparrows and robins.

Over the years, bird-friendly additions have been made to the yard, including a hummingbird feeder and a garden lush with native plant species. With time and weather, the original bird house no longer stands. But in its place are two pine cone bird feeders that still do the trick.

Raechel Bonomo (Photo by Chase Wastesicoot)

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the acting project lead, employee communications, at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo.

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