Easy Kids' Fall Craft: Make a Pine Cone Bird Feeder
It seems that on every hike or nature walk we go on, my kids pick up pine cones. They like to collect large or just nicely shaped pine cones, and we end up having a bunch of them scattered around the house most of the time.
This weekend we decided to put one of them to good use and make a pine cone bird feeder. It's a fun, inexpensive fall craft project that's easy enough for just about every child to make.
You also get the satisfaction of getting to watch wild birds eat your handiwork. We like to watch the different colorful birds in our yard (plus they also eat bugs that might go after our vegetable garden).
This project is an old favorite with many families, summer camps, and schools, and you may even remember making something similar back when you were a kid.
Here's what you'll need for the project:
- a pine cone
- non-toxic acrylic paints (optional)
- creamy peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, or vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
- bird seed
- string, yarn, or ribbon
- a plastic bag or paper plate
- a spoon or butter knife
This project can potentially get a little messy, so unless you enjoy vacuuming up bird seed, you'll probably want to set up your work area out in the back yard.
Find a big pine cone and bring it home. You'll want to get one that's opened up so the scales are separated. Take your pine cone and decorate it with paint if you like (my daughter insisted that hers have a colorful look); let the paint thoroughly dry.
Now smear peanut butter onto the pine cone, working it in between the scales. We didn't bother using up our good natural peanut butter here—we just bought whatever was on sale specifically for this project, in this case Jif. If you're concerned about children's peanut allergies, you can substitute another nut or seed butter, like sunflower seed butter, or vegetable shortening for the peanut butter. By the way, before we started on this project I did a little research to make sure that's it's OK for wild birds to eat peanut butter—it's in fact perfectly fine for them.
We always try to leave the bottom couple inches of scales free of peanut butter so birds can perch without getting any on their feet. I don't know why I worry about this, but I suppose it's possible that there are neat freak birds out there who'd rather not track peanut butter into their nests.
Now roll the pine cone in bird seed or sprinkle the seed over it, making sure to push the seeds into the peanut butter. This is where things can get a little messy, so do this over a paper plate or in a plastic bag, and, as I mentioned before, outside.
When you're all done, tie a piece of ribbon or string to the top of the cone, hang it from a tree, and wait for you feathered friends to have a feast. This is a great project for playgroups, or for Daisy, Brownie, or Cub Scout meetings.