Winter has arrived, and many of us across the country are on snowmageddon lockdown. If you’re like us and looking for something fun and easy — and inexpensive — to do with your kids, try making these natural bird treats.
More: Best snow day activities for kids
I made mine using shredded wheat, but you can use birdseed, crackers or another type of cereal. Do avoid sugary cereals and artificial coloring, though. (Check out BirdChannel.com for more on which cereals are best for birds.)
A word of caution when using bird seeds: As the birds eat and hang out near their treats they’re likely to drop seeds onto the ground which can blossom into annoying weeds in the spring.
Step 1: Gather materials
You will need pinecones of any size, yarn or string, scissors, a bowl, cereal (or crackers or bird seed), a butter knife and peanut butter — creamy or chunky will work.
Step 2: Attach string or yarn
Be sure to cut your string or yarn pieces long enough so that they’ll hang freely. I cut 18-inch pieces. Tuck the string underneath the pinecone’s scales. (Be aware that they can be pokey, so consider wearing gloves.) Once the string has made it around the pinecone, gather both ends of the string and tie them together.
Step 3: Crumble cereal or crackers into a bowl
Aim to have a mix of very small chunks of cereal. Remember: Birds have small beaks and mouths.
Step 4: Cover pinecones with peanut butter
Hold the string in your hand, keeping it taut against the pinecone to help you hold it in place while you spread peanut butter. Be sure to get into the crevasses!
A note about peanut butter and birds: There are old wives tales out there that warn against feeding birds peanut butter, but they’ve been busted.
Step 5: Roll peanut butter-covered pinecones in cereal (or cracker crumbs or bird seed)
I also like to sprinkle the cereal over the pinecones and gently pat it into the peanut butter.
Then use your bowl to carry your bird treats outside.
Step 5: Treat the birds
Be sure to position them so that your family (and your cats!) can see them from a window. Then watch as your neighborhood birds visit for a snack.
Did one of your strings fall off like one of mine did? (My third pinecone fell apart on the end where I wound the string.) No worries. Just drop it on the ground and sprinkle any leftover cereal on top of them. The birds will be happy to nosh on your mistakes too.