Making Backyard Bird Feeders with Kids

Making Backyard Bird Feeders with Kids

It's hard to feel connected with wildlife if you aren't exposed to it. But by feeding birds where you live, you'll get a daily dose of visitors. While some species will visit all year round, others are migratory, passing through only during certain seasons. And others will surprise you by coming dressed in brightly colored breeding plumage, after you become accustomed to seeing them in their relatively dull winter tones.

Making backyard bird feeders with kids is one of the simplest strategies to experience the wonders of wildlife and to feel compassion for other species. It's a perfect activity to do with your family for Earth Day, too! 

Why feed birds? Can't they find their own food?

As humans spread further and further into undeveloped land, we remove wildlife habitat in order to build our own homes.  Even in existing neighborhoods, people frequently cut down trees to expand homes or pave roads. An unintended consequence of our development is a reduction in wildlife habitat. With food in limited supply, particularly in winter and early spring, bird can benefit from some additional support.

But what about feeding birds during the summer and fall, when there are seeds galore in the environment?  It's still okay to feed the birds during this time of the year. No evidence has been shown that backyard bird feeders alter migratory patterns, so you aren't encouraging birds to stick around when they should be heading south for the winter. 

Plus, by having bird feeders near your home, you are drawing birds closer to you and your family all year for better observation and identification.  You can notice the plumage variations of certain species, such as goldfinches, between winter and spring. You can keep a log of what dates the first of each species shows up every year.  Here, we celebrate every time we see our first red-shafted flicker and cedar waxwing.  

Lark SparrowLark Sparrow, Texas

Bird Feeder Safety

Hang feeders where birds are safe from predators, such as cats. Kitties are notorious for being athletic, so hang the feeder away from branches that stalking cats might use as a jumping platform.

Windows are particularly dangerous to birds, who often fly right into them, thinking the reflection of the sky IS the actual sky. You can purchase cling decals or hang streamers along the windows to deter birds from getting too close. Or, you can accomplish the same goal by having someone artsy draw pictures on the glass with a bar of soap.

One word of caution. Bird feeders can attract some unintended species, such as squirrels or even bears. 

What to feed birds?

Commercially available birdseed is ideal for most bird feeders. They can come in pre-mixed formulations or you can purchase different types of food separately, such as corn, sunflower seeds (shelled or unshelled) and nijer / thistle seeds.  You will notice different species of birds visiting your feeder, depending on the type of foods you put out.  You can also feed birds a variety of different fruits, such as halved citrus, apple or pumpkin. While table scraps are not recommended, many species do tend to adore popcorn!  Make sure to avoid chocolate, though, since it contains chemicals that are toxic to many types of animals. 

Make Your Own Bird Feeders with Kids

Now that you know why it's a great idea to feed birds near your home, are you ready to give it a try? It's a fun activity to do together as a family, and it will give you all a greater appreciation for the avian species who share your habitat.

Paper Plate Bird Feeder

Paper Plate Bird Feeder by Happy Hooligans


Homemade bird feeder in a pumpkin

Homemade Bird Feeder by Kitchen Counter Chronicles


Lego Bird Feeder

Are your kids lego fanatics? Can they design a bird feeder out of their favorite toy? 

Do you feed the birds? We'd love to hear about it, along with what species visit you in your part of the world.


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  • Michelle Stern
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