University of Illinois Extension
Feed the birds with DIY feeders
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[January 13, 2022]
Creating simple, homemade birdfeeders is a great way to support
feathered friends during the cold winter months when food sources
are scarce. It also allows us to be creative, resourceful, and
engage with nature while stuck indoors. Make your backyard more
wildlife-friendly by making a few of these natural, DIY birdfeeders.
Select any citrus fruit to create this feeder. My favorite is
grapefruit because they are large and smell delicious. Cut the fruit
in half and scoop out the insides so you are left with a bowl (and
enjoy the fresh treat!). Poke three holes through the peel evenly
spaced around the orange, ˝ inch down from the rim. Thread string
through the holes, tying knots on the outside of the citrus to hold
it in place, and then tie all the string ends together to create a
hanger. Fill the citrus bowl with birdseed.
Gather a pinecone, peanut butter or vegetable shortening, birdseed,
and string to create this natural feeder. Attach the string to the
pinecone to hang from a branch. Cover the pinecone in peanut butter
or vegetable shortening, getting between the cracks and crevices of
the cone. Next roll the covered pinecone in the birdseed, slightly
pushing down so the seeds stick, covering it completely with seed.
Practice your sewing skills creating this feeder! Collect thread and
needle, a bag of popcorn, and some fresh cranberries. Thread the
fruit and popcorn onto the string, creating a pattern of your
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Tie a knot in the string when you get the desired length, then use the garland
to add décor to an evergreen tree in the landscape. If you want to create a
wreath, simply use florist wire and twist the ends together to form a circle.
You can also add other grains, cereal, fresh or dried fruit, or nuts to the mix!
What kind of birdseed should you use when creating your DIY feeders? Different
birds have different preferences on the type depending on their beak and
nutritional needs. The most popular among backyard birds is sunflower seeds.
Birdseed mixes can also be used, but remember that higher-quality mixes will
attract more diverse birds and will provide better nutrition and healthier
When hanging your homemade birdfeeders, you also want to make sure you hang it
away from other birdfeeders to prevent overcrowding and the spread of disease.
Discard your feeder after the seeds are gone or if they become spoiled.
When making these feeders with children, talk about different foods that
different birds eat and how bird species have beaks adapted to eating certain
types of food. Create a journal to track what kind of birds visit your feeders
and when you first see them.
Enjoy feeding and watching our feathered friends this winter!
[SOURCE: Brittnay Haag, Horticulture
Educator with University of Illinois Extension]