Okay, they’re probably more likely to be squirrel feeders. But we don’t care much!
We have been so happy to be feeding the wildlife around our house. Between the hummingbird feeder and the popcorn & cranberry garlands, we’ve been having a lot of crafty wildlife fun. The pine cone bird feeders were a natural next step!
Fortunately, we live in a part of the world that has a lot of evergreens with cones, so it was easy to find friends with beautiful and plentiful pine cones for us to collect. It helped us with our project, and saved them from picking up cones for a while!
Pine cones (fir cones could work, but they tend to be smaller). If the cones are closed up or moist, put them in the oven at 200 for a while until they are dry and/or open. TIP: put foil under them, so if any sap drips out it doesn’t get on your pan!
I quickly realized that foil would save me a giant sap mess later, so I pulled them out and slipped a sheet of foil between them and the pan
• Peanut butter or lard. Make sure the peanut butter is all natural, no sense giving the woodland creatures a bunch of sugar or corn syrup. We don’t buy that
crap artificial stuff anyway, so we used the Adams all natural that we had on hand. We used more than I expected, and I started feeling cheap about the peanut butter, so I went to Winco and bought some lard. It was much less expensive than peanut butter, and according to my handy bird expert (the zoo director!), lard & peanut butter are both great for the birds.
• Bird seed. I bought a 10 lb. bag at Fred Meyer for $9. I got a general mix that would appeal to widest variety of North American birds. Make sure it includes some black sunflowers, as those have really good protein.*
• String or ribbon to hang them.
1. Tie the string around whichever end of the cone you want to be the top. Don’t do what I did at first and start with the peanut butter – it only took one super-messy peanut butter string situation to teach me that the string should go first.
2. Use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter or lard all over the cone, tucking it into the spaces. I like mine to still look like pine cones and not just big blobs, but I’m sure the birds didn’t care.
3. Roll the coated cones in a bowl of seeds, and gently press the seeds into the lard/butter.
4. Hang it in a tree, and wait for the wildlife!
*You can get specific seed blends for your area, so be sure to check. Cornell Ornithology Lab or your local Audubon Society are good places to check. I’ve also found a lot of good information on the Oregon State Extension Service website, so check your state.