Making your own bird feeders is a lovely way to introduce some birds into your garden, teach children about nature and it’s even a great sensory activity for little ones.
Ollie loves animals and really likes watching birds but recently we haven’t had many in the garden. At this time of year, the trees and bushes are bare, and it’s so cold that the ground is pretty hard too so there isn’t much food around for the birds. I bought some bird seed to try and invite them in, but rather than just sprinkling it on the ground or buying a container, I thought we’d make our own feeders as a way to keep Ollie entertained for the afternoon.
What You Will Need To Make Bird Feeders:
A mould (we used yoghurt pots, paper cups and cookie cutters)
Fat such as lard or suet
You can also add things like peanut butter and cheese
How To Make Bird Feeders:
Firstly you need to make your mixture. You can buy bird seed from garden centres and even supermarkets. I found a big bag in Wilkos for £1.50 and we made 5 feeders with ¼ of the bag so it’s really good value. Put your seed in a big bowl and mix in any other ingredients you want to add such as cheese or nuts. You then need to mix in your fat. I used lard and left it out for an hour before we started so it was soft, then cut it into pieces.
I added this to the bowl and we squashed it all together with our hands. It needs to be mixed in well, and you need to use enough fat to make it all stick together. We then scooped it out and filled up our containers.
We made two different types of feeders. Firstly, I poked a small hole in the bottom of some paper cups and plastic yoghurt pots. I then threaded string through the hole and tied a knot in the bottom. We filled the pots with our mixture then left them to set in the fridge. Once they were set, I cut away the pots and hung them up in the garden! If you make these, make sure you pull the string through to the open end of the cup, so it runs through the middle of the mixture.
We also made a couple of prettier feeders using cookie cutters. We packed the mixture into the cutter to make a star shape. I poked a hole through with a cake decorating tool, but you could use a straw or pen. I stuck these in the fridge and when they were set, poked them out of the cutters. I then threaded string through the hole so we could hang them up.
Why This Is A Great Sensory Activity:
Sensory play is really just anything that stimulates a child’s senses. This activity incorporates different sounds, smells and textures.
Ollie really enjoyed making the feeders. He liked scooping the seed up and transferring it between different pots. He played with the seed for a while before we even started making our feeders. He wasn’t a big fan of the mixing though! He didn’t like the sensation of it on his hands so he finished up the mixing with a wooden spoon. I think that’s the great thing about sensory activities. It allows children to experience different smells, noises and textures and decide for themselves what they do and don’t like. His favourite part was filling the cups and ‘pat pat patting’ the mixture down with his spoon.
We hung our feeders up in the garden yesterday morning and have already spotted one visitor! Now I just need to convince Ollie not to shout hello at the birds and scare them away!