Create Homemade Bird Feeders

Welcoming neighborhood birds to the backyard can be a rewarding pastime. Homeowners can enjoy the color and the spectacle of nearby birds while learning about which native birds call the region home.

There's no need to purchase an expensive bird feeder to entice feathered friends to stop by. Homeowners can easily make a feeder from a host of common household supplies. This is a great craft project for children of any age under the supervision of an adult. Consider these ideas for getting started.

* Rinse out an empty soda bottle, preferably a liter or 2-liter size. Punch holes on either side of the bottle and thread a twig all the way through. Make sure enough of the twig extends outward to serve as perches. Poke more holes for the birds to access seeds. Tie a string around the neck of the bottle and hang.

* Use an empty aluminum pie tin to hold seeds. Punch holes in the perimeter to attach string. Punch very small drainage holes in the center of the pie tin. Hang the feeder from a tree limb.

* Find a large pinecone. Coat it with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed. Hang the pine cone for birds to enjoy.

* Hummingbirds are amazing creatures to welcome to the neighborhood. They drink nectar as their primary source of nutrition. A hummingbird feeder can be made by boiling sugar with water to create a sugary syrup. Once cool, pour the syrup into an empty baby food jar or a small plastic bottle with a hole cut in the middle. Glue red faux flowers around to camouflage the container (hummingbirds prefer red flowers). Hang and watch the small aviators arrive.

* Some birds prefer suet, a mix of seeds and fats solidified into a block. Create a suet holder by using an old piece of wire mesh. Bend to form a pocket to hold the suet. Be sure to use gloves and needle-nose pliers to bend down any sharp edges of the wire so not to cut yourself or the birds. Use a string or wire hanger to hang the suet holder on a tree or fence.

* Create bird "cookies" you can suspend in tree limbs by mixing 2 cups of biscuit mix with a few tablespoons of water to make a soft dough. Roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to cut cookies into desired shapes. Use a straw to punch a hole in each cookie. Melt 2 tablespoons of margarine and brush over the cookies. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Bake at 425 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Once cool, thread brightly colored ribbon through the cookies and hang for birds to enjoy.

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