Easy Backyard Activity: Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Late last week after a busy morning of running around and getting errands and chores accomplished, I realized that we were in need of some creative time.  We’d collected pine cones earlier in the week and they were ready and waiting to be a little bit more useful than just a lazy “center piece” decoration.

I’ve loved working through our fall bucket list just as much as our end-of-summer list! It feels so much easier when all your ideas and aspirations are already documented.  This way, when the time is right, I can consult the list and know just what to do.  Pine Cone Bird Feeders are on our fall list, and even though they are super easy to execute, I’d been putting them off in favor of more active adventures that had us leaving the house.

I read about the simple idea in one of our favorite outdoor activity references, The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book, and knew the feeders were something we would be able to not only accomplish successfully, but also enjoy!

Easy Backyard Activity: Pine Cone Bird Feeders | WildTalesof.com

Things You Need:

  • Pine Cones
  • Yarn, string or twine
  • Peanut Butter (Allergies to peanuts? Try sunflower seed butter or vegetable shortening.)
  • Bird Seed
  • Knife/spatula, plate, and flat working surface

1. Collect Pine Cones

This was a fun outdoor adventure in itself.  We found some perfect medium-sized cones at Volunteer Park here in Seattle.

Easy Backyard Activity: Pine Cone Bird Feeders | WildTalesof.com

2. Set up your work station with supplies.

Since I wanted to complete the task outside (less clean-up, but yes, it was raining out!), we used Bergen’s big toy storage bin as a table and gathered all our supplies to have them close by:

  • Tying device (string, yarn, etc) with scissors
  • Peanut Butter jar with knife/spatula for spreading
  • Pour bird seed on the plate

3. Attach string to the pine cones.

It’s important to attach your tying device first.  If not, the completed feeder with be way too sticky and seedy and attaching your string will be a frustrating task! We just tied a piece of yarn to the top notch of the pine cone leaving some extra and then used the extra to tie a loop.

4. Spread pine cones with peanut butter/alternative.

This was when I had to exercise extreme patience with Bergen! He really wanted to be able to spread, though his 3-year old little hands are not the best at it.  I allowed him a turn, and then finished up to make sure most of the cone was covered with peanut butter.  It was also very hard for him to resist sneaking (several) bites of peanut butter. Who could blame him? It’s pretty tasty!

Easy Backyard Activity: Pine Cone Bird Feeders | WildTalesof.com

5. Roll pine cones in a plate of bird seed.

This was the best part for Bergen, and it was great for introducing him to a new fine motor concept (rolling)! At first he just kept pushing the pine cone into the seeds spread out on the plate.  I had to instruct him to actually turn the cone in order for all sides to get covered with seeds. Bird seed gets everywhere, so again, I was happy to be doing this activity outside!

Easy Backyard Activity: Pine Cone Bird Feeders | WildTalesof.com

6. Hang!

You can certainly adorn your feeders with festive decorations like ribbons, paint or glitter, but we opted for a simple craft this time! We explored the backyard searching for good spots to hang the feeders—another great lesson as some spots just won’t work!

Easy Backyard Activity: Pine Cone Bird Feeders | WildTalesof.com

After completing this activity, I see even more benefits than I originally realized! What I appreciate is that the project gets us outdoors and paying attention to nature more than just once.  First there’s the pine cone collecting, then you must head outside to make the feeders (who wants to bring all that mess indoors?), and finally, we’ve got to check on our feeders!  It seems the feeders have also been entertainment for the dog. With so much more activity in the backyard with birds (and squirrels), he’s keeping himself busy tracking and chasing!

In what ways are you enjoying fall (or whatever season it might be) in your neck of the woods? Have you ever made a bird feeder? Tell us about your creations.  Would love to chat more in the comments. 

This post is linked up with the Outdoor Play Party with Rain or Shine Mamma (among other great sites to check out)!

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