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Winter is for the Birds - Easy Ways to Make Birdfeeders

Bluster and Bother! Winter is for the birds, don't you think? In my opinion, it is time for this season to end, and for spring to start.  I shouldn't complain though; at least I get to spend most of my days inside.  There are animals like birds who live outside in the cold all through winter, and so this weekend we thought we should do something to help them out. At the end of winter and in early spring, food sources can be scarce for wild birds.  Making bird feeders is a great activity that lets kids be creative, messy, and artistic, and helps wildlife survive. Winter may be for the birds, but this is one way to feel better about it.

There are lots of different ways that you can easily make bird feeders with your kids.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Bread, birdseed, and egg:
(a) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with wax paper.
(b) Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of stale bread. Use a straw or skewer to poke a hole in the top of each cutout.
(c) Beat an egg white, or whole egg, with a fork, and pour into a shallow bowl. Fill a second shallow bowl with birdseed or millet.
(d) Dip bread in egg, or use a pastry brush to spread egg onto bread (the pastry brush may be a better choice if you are working with young children).  Dip egg coated bread into birdseed, or sprinkle birdseed onto bread with a spoon.  Ensure bread is well coated with birdseed, pressing in seeds if necessary.
(e) Place birdseed coated bread on the cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until bread is dry. Remove from oven, and allow to cool on a cookie sheet.  Thread a length of string through the hole, and knot.  Hang from tree branches outside.
Note: Alternately, spread cut out slices of stale bread with natural peanut or other nut/seed butter, and dip peanut butter coated bread into bird seed.  Create a hanger from string, and hang outside (no baking required).

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2. Pinecones and Popcorn:
(a) Gather pinecones (large ones work best), and bowl of air-popped popcorn.  Press popcorn pieces between the scales of each pinecone.  Tie a string around the top of the pinecone, and hang outside.

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3. Peanut butter and Pine Cones:
(a) Fill a bowl with natural peanut or seed butter, and pour birdseed or millet into shallow bowl or pieplate.  Have kids smear pine cones with peanut butter, and then roll pinecones in birdseed to coat.  Tie with a string, and hang.

4. Cereal strings: String "O" shaped cereal onto pipe-cleaners or lengths of string.  Knot or twist and hang.

5. Popcorn strings: Allow older children to use a blunt needle to thread popcorn pieces onto string.  Drape your popcorn garland around a tree outside. Feel free to add cranberries to your string as well.

6. Apple rings: This is as easy as it gets.  Tie string through dried apple rings, and hang outside.

Have fun while feeding our feathered friends!

Beary Truly Yours,
Theodore Bear and the Ape 2 Zebra Animal Associates

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