An important part of wildlife conservation is fieldwork, where scientists explore natural landscapes to learn more about animals that live there. Sometimes they will set up camera’s that have specific food or smells on them to attract animals – yummy ingredients like peanut butter and seeds are a tasty treat for birds! This activity will help you test your fieldwork skills as you observe some of the wildlife in your own local habitat. Once you build your feeder, all you need to do is place it in your yard and watch what comes to visit to find out!

As a Junior Defender, you’ll need to use your eyes and ears to recognize each bird. Taking notes on what you see can be super useful to look back on later. This includes everything from the bird’s size, shape, colorful markings, behavior and sound. Then use your detective skills to match all these clues to a bird’s description. Check out a book on local bird watching from your library, or use an online guide to help you with this.

You can even sign up for apps like iNaturalist to photograph and identify every new encounter – your valuable notes will help scientists to learn more about nature in your community! See if you can notice any patterns as more species begin to flock to your new feeder. What kind of birds are you seeing the most? Does this change at different times of the day or year? 

This feeder works best during the cooler times of the year. In hot temperatures, the peanut butter may melt, making a sticky mess. Luckily, during the warmer months, it’s easier for birds to find seeds on their own.

Please note: If you live in an area where bears are common, please choose another activity. Bears find birdfeeders very tasty, but often get into trouble when they get too close to human homes. Click here for a flyer to share with your parents about how you can be “bear aware.”

You’ll need:

  • a pine cone
  • peanut butter
  • bird seed
  • twine or string
  • wax paper
  • scissors (Remember, always ask an adult before using scissors!)
  • a butter knife
  • a plate or shallow bowl
  • a ruler 

First, place a sheet of wax paper (about a foot long) on a flat workspace, like a table or a desk.

Then use your scissors to cut a piece of string or twine about three feet long. Tie one end of the string around the top of the pine cone.

Using a butter knife, spread peanut butter on the pine cone. Be sure to cover all the sides! 

Pour bird seed into a plate or shallow bowl. Then roll the pine cone in the bird seed, making sure that as much seed sticks to the pine cone as possible. Different birds eat different types of bird seed. Talk to someone at a local pet store or garden center about what types of bird seed the birds in your area enjoy the most!

Put your pine cone feeder on the piece of wax paper, and place in the freezer for about an hour so that the seeds set in the peanut butter. While you’re waiting, clean up and put all unused materials away.

Take your pine cone feeder outside and tie the free end of the string or twine to a tree branch or balcony railing. Make sure you can see the feeder from your window so you can see the birds that come to snack on this new treat.

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