Habitat at Home Workshop

Today we ran a workshop at our local library for homeschoolers.  The purpose of the workshop was to make some birdfeeders out of household materials.  Since this was a pretty mixed age group I went pretty simple with the bird food/feeders and other stuff.  We ended up making a pine cone birdfeeder, a hanging fruit kabob, a log suet feeder (and the suet to go with it), some squirrel chow and a water bottle bird feeder.  Basically I set up stations, explained to everyone how to make the various items and let everyone loose.  I wandered around helping where needed.  K and B made some stuff while W’s main job was to drill the holes in the log suet feeders.

Of course I forgot my camera (are you surprised? I wasn’t.)  but I have tried to replicate what we did with some photos I took when we got home. 

First the pine cone feeders.  I don’t have any pictures for this one because my kids had already hung their’s out and I don’t have any decent pine cones at home to replicate.  It’s pretty simple though; wrap some wire around the stem end of the pine cone, coat it in peanut butter and roll it in bird food.  I found it was easiest to give each child a plastic knife for the communal peanut butter and then had them share a 9X13 pan half full of bird food for rolling.  Almost every child there (ages ranging from 4yo-10yo) could do this on their own.  Have plastic bags on hand for storage, they’re messy!

Next was the Hanging Fruit Kabob.  This was also very simple.  We sliced apples and oranges crosswise and used  florist wire to attach them to each other.  The trick here is to *tie off* the first peice of fruit with a loop of wire and then to *sew* the wire through the other peices as opposed to just threading each peice of fruit onto the wire. 

Here’s a picture of the one K made hanging in the tree:

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The next few were a little more complicated. 

For the squirrel chow you need:

chunky peanut butter
vegetable shortning
stale bread, torn into peices (you can use fresh bread too, but this is a great way to use up stale)
peanuts

I didn’t really measure very precisely, if at all.  Basically you take 3 scoops of chunky PB and melt it in the microwave.  I heat it in a pyrex bowl, 30 sec at a time until farily liquid.  At this point add 1 scoop vegetable shortning and stir until the shortning is melted and incorperated.  Then, add bread pieces and peanuts and stir until bread is coated but not soggy.

To serve to the squirrels (that sounds so funny to me, makes me think of the little critters sitting at tiny tables with napkins in their laps!) just stick it in a disposable pan, a bowl or just throw it on the ground or snow.  Alternately, you can make a feeder by cutting a large window in the front of a gallon jug and nailing that to a post or hanging it by the handle. 

Here’s a picture of ours in a pan out in the tree out back.

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To make the suet feeders you need the big guns.  You start with either a log about a foot long and 3″-4″ in diameter OR a 4″x4″ post cut into a foot length.  Then you use a drill and the appropriate bit to cut 1″-1 1/2″ indentations into the wood.  You want them be about 3/4″ deep.  These are where you will put the suet. If you use a 4″x4″ post you will also need to drill a hole for a piece of dowel since it will be too smooth for the birds to grip and eat.   Here’s an example of each read to stuff.

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Next you need to make the suet.  We made a very simple version since I had to bring enough supplies for 10 people.  You can jazz it up by adding different nuts, dried fruit and better bired food if you like.  Out version involved taking some vegetable shortening and add enough bird seed and peanuts that it looked something like this when it was mixed up:

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Then stuff the holes of the feeders with the suet and put the rest away for later.

To make the bottle bird feeder use these directions on Animal Planet (we got the directions for the log suet feeders there as well).

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