A few days ago as I looked out my kitchen window at our hummingbird feeder, covered in snow, I imagined the hummingbirds were now somewhere warm, sipping tiny pina coladas. But then it occurred to me that not all birds are so lucky and many are having to get through the winter right where they are! Suddenly I felt very guilty that I was not contributing to the wintertime care and feeding of our fine-feathered friends!
In much of North America, winter can be a difficult time for birds. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or is hidden by snow, and most insects are dead or dormant. Poor little things! I had to do something…ASAP!
I remembered seeing a simple upcycling idea for a bird feeder somewhere that involved a plastic soda bottle and two wooden spoons. I was too lazy to search for it so I kind of made it up as I went along. ;-)
If you would like to help your local feathered population get through the winter…here is a simple way to do it!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- a 20 oz empty soda bottle
- 2 wooden spoons (I picked mine up at the thrift store for .25 cents ea)
- some string or twine
- an Xacto knife
- bird seed
Wash out and dry your empty soda bottle and remove the label. Mark with a pen where you want the wooden spoon perches to go on your bottle. I placed one set of holes approximately 1 inch higher than the other, on opposite sides of the bottle.
Then using the Xacto knife, cut “X’s” in the plastic over the pen marks that are just barely big enough to push the wooden spoons ends through.
Insert your spoons, end first, until the “spoon” part butts up against the plastic. This will be the bird’s feeding perch. I then cut a slightly bigger opening above where the perch was (using the Xacto knife) to allow a little bit of seed to come out.
Now fill your bottle with seed (a funnel comes in very handy for this!) and put the cap on.
Turn the bottle upside down and add a hanger by wrapping jute (or whatever you have handy) several times around the body of the bottle, tying in a knot on one side, then take another piece of jute and repeat, tying into a knot on the opposite side of the bottle. Now bring those ends up and tie together at the top.
Now go find a place to hang where the birdies will find it, use it,…and ideally…where you can also see it. I haven’t seen any visitors to my feeder YET…but I remain hopeful. :-)
Hoping it soon looks like this! :-)
More Winter Bird Feeding Tips:
- Keep feeders full when winter is toughest. Bird feeders are most attractive to birds in winter, when natural food supplies are least available. Seeds that are merely a welcome supplement under normal winter conditions may suddenly become vital in the space of one fierce ice storm or blizzard.
- Feeders should be located out of the wind. The east or southeast side of a house or near a row of trees is ideal. It is best to have a perching spot such as a bush or tree for the birds to use to survey the feeding area and provide sufficient cover for safe refuge from predators and shelter from the wind and weather. The feeders should be positioned near cover but in the open to allow birds to watch for danger.
- Oil sunflower is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content and its relatively thin shell.
- Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm.
- Peanuts are another great food to offer birds in the wintertime. Peanuts have high protein and fat levels and are often an ingredient in suet products.
- Clean off feeders, platforms and perches after each storm so seed is easily accessible.
- Leave fruit and berries on trees, hedges and bushes to provide a natural source of food throughout the winter.
- Add a heated birdbath to your backyard or place a safe heating element in a regular birdbath to provide birds with liquid water.
- Stamp or shovel snow around feeders to provide easier access to spilled seed for ground feeding birds.
- Leave nesting boxes and birdhouses up all year round to provide winter roosting sites.
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