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Monday, January 2, 2012

Bird Cafe

On the menu--a variety of ideas for feeding your neighborhood birds:

    Pine cone bird feeder, a classic
Go for a walk and collect pine cones found in nature-
the cones bought in craft stores are usually treated with chemicals.

Here's What You Need:
pine cones
bird seed--you can also add ingredients like oatmeal and raisins.
peanut butter (if allergies are a problem, use vegetable shortening, lard or suet)
yarn, twine, string or ribbon, for hanging the bird treats.
plastic knives, craft sticks, or table knife for spreading the peanut butter
shallow dish

Here's What You Do:
*Pour some bird seed into the shallow dish.
*Fasten a foot-long piece of string to each pine cone.
*Have your child spread the peanut butter or one of the alternative substances onto the pine cone.
*Let your child dip and roll the covered pine cone into the birdseed mixture.
*Take a walk outside and find a place to hang your bird-feeder--from a tree or shrub. If you can find a place outside your window, you may be able to watch your feathered friends enjoy their treats!

Bird-seed cakes

Here's What You Need:

unflavored gelatin packets
boiling water
wooden spoon

Here's What You Do:

*Dissolve one packet of gelatin into one cup of boiling water (an adult's job). 
*Put the dissolved mixture into a bowl and pour in about 3 cups of birdseed.  Let your child mix it up.  Add more seed if needed, to make a stiff "dough." 

 *Spoon the mixture into molds, or empty yogurt containers, etc--even cookie cutters can work if you tape some cardboard to make a bottom. Pack the mixture down firmly.
*Tie a loop of yarn for hanging later, and press the knotted end into the cake.  Press a bit more of the seed mixture on top to hold it in place.  
*The cakes will harden at room temperature, but for quicker results, place them in the refrigerator until firm.
*To release the cakes from the molds, dip briefly into hot water.  The cakes should pop out easily.   
*Now they are ready to hang in your garden!

Variation:  Mix one part lard with two parts birdseed.  Children can mash and mix this with their hands and press it into yogurt containers, molds, or cookie cutters.  Freeze or refrigerate until firm.  Tie with twine, or hang in a recycled mesh bag (such as the kind Laughing Cow cheese comes in) and dangle it in your garden.

Watch out for marauding squirrels!

What to do with a recycled milk carton:

"Feeding the birds" from Jennie's Hat by Ezra Jack Keats

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