Christmas for the Birds ... and a Horde of Others

| 12/21/2011 2:05:56 PM

Tags: Attracting birds, children and nature, easy birdfeeder project for kids, deterring squirrels from bird feeders, Cindy Murphy,

CindyMurphyBlog.jpgThanksgiving weekend, Shannon asked me if we could go to the nursery, closed for the season, and collect pinecones. The weather was beautiful – sunny and warm for late November. Keith, Shannon, I, and the dog spent the afternoon enjoying the outdoors in one of the last truly autumn days we’ve had. While they played with the dog, I cut boughs of white pine, blue spruce, hemlock, yew, juniper, and holly boughs from the fields and woods on the property. Then we all collected a crate of pinecones from beneath the tall white pines that make up windbreaks throughout the nursery.   

I planned on using the boughs and berries to decorate our front porch, and in basket arrangements to sell at Baragar Pines Farm.   

holiday baskets 

Shannon wanted the pinecones to make birdfeeders. I’ve taught this project a few times over the years to children’s groups, as well as Shannon and I doing it at home. It’s a simple and quick project that the kids always seem to enjoy ... probably because it’s messy also. (Before getting started, I recommend covering the surface you’ll be working on with newspapers, or a plastic table cloth.  I keep a table cloth for just such purposes – it’s easy to wipe clean and store away until the next messy project presents itself.)

Pinecone Bird Feeders 

Materials needed: 

cindy murphy
12/27/2011 6:26:24 PM

Good point, Chris; thanks for bringing it up! I did some drilling on the Internet too because I certainly wouldn't want to do or recommend anything that would harm the birds. I found a lot of references dispelling the "myths" (because that is what some sites call it - a myth) that peanut butter is harmful to birds. Two trusted sites specifically, the Audubon Society, and Cornell University, state that peanut butter is not harmful to birds; in fact, both sites list pinecone peanut butter bird feeders as a way to attract birds in winter. Those that are worried about it being too sticky can add cornmeal to the mix, and those worried about the salt or sugar content can choose a low salt or low sugar peanut butter....but there's no scientific evidence birds will be harmed by eating peanut butter. Again, thanks for bringing up a concern many people might have. Hope you had a great Christmas also!

chris davis
12/26/2011 11:55:14 PM

The Christmas baskets look great, and making the pine cone feeders sounds like a lot of fun - and sticky! At least the birds didn't have to go without. When I mentioned your article to some friends they said the local radio said don't use peanut butter which surprised me. A quick check yielded nothing definitive - just a precaution that salted peanuts adversely affected their hearts. Some sites suggested peanut butter. Personally, I don't think it's a problem since you are talking about a Christmas activity and not a winter feeding program. Hope you had a great Christmas!

nebraska dave
12/26/2011 7:14:25 PM

Cindy, yeeeah, I've been through this teenage phase before. I guess I can do it again. No wait he's only seven years old. Is that the new teen? Oh, I hope not.

nebraska dave
12/26/2011 7:13:38 PM

Cindy, yeeeah, I've been through this teenage phase before. I guess I can do it again. No wait he's only seven years old. Is that the new teen? Oh, I hope not.

cindy murphy
12/26/2011 3:34:11 PM

Hope Bradley liked it, Dave.....and I hope you were able to load up on the snacks (and got plenty for yourself too). It always seems like its a nonstop parade of the girls' friends coming through the door during the holidays - and they all know where the snack cupboard is!

nebraska dave
12/23/2011 8:55:25 PM

Cindy, yep xbox 360 kinect will rock the house all next week. I better stock up on snacks because I suspect the household will be popular with the neighborhood kids. So lets power up and rock on.

cindy murphy
12/23/2011 12:46:56 PM

So that's what that light was on the horizon for all those years...your house, Dave! Dang, that's a lot of lights. Sorry you weren't in the mood this year, but completely understandable, and I hope for you that things are getting a bit easier in that respect. Grieving is a difficult process that takes time, especially around the holidays. Bradley, I'd bet, would have fun making pinecone bird feeders. Maybe the next rainy/snowy/inclement weather day, you might want to give it a try with might be messy, but is a lot less noisy than electronic games when you're stuck inside the house, (I read in a comment somewhere here you were rearranging the living room to accommodate such a game) . Merry Christmas to you and your family!

nebraska dave
12/22/2011 3:11:33 PM

Cindy, Birds, squirrels, and other wild critter's interact can certainly be comical. Can't it? I spend many hours watching the interaction from the poor man's patio bench. I do have a Cedar tree next to the driveway that houses some kind of small birds. I should try the pine cone bird feeders. Cayenne pepper is the secret to keep the pesky squirrels away, huh. I think my grandson, Bradley would like to make some bird feeders. He really likes to help with messy things. He helped his Mom with Christmas cookie decorating. However, it was one cookie decorated and one finger full of frosting for him. I'm not much for creative decorating so I wouldn't know what to do with boughs or holly. My decorations are strictly lights. I can string them, hang them, drape them, and even fix them. That is my expertise. The rest of the decorations has to be some one else. We have running lights, icicle lights, swag lights, flashing lights, big lights, small lights, old lights, new lights, and broken lights. Tubs and tubs of lights are tenderly stored away just waiting for the Christmas season. This year because of big event in November, Dad's passing, I just wasn't in the mood so not many lights are adorning the premises this year. There's always next year. Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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