One of my favorite parts about spring is the tune that fills the air from birds that have made their way back home after a winter spent in warmer locales. While many people think about feeding birds in the winter, spring can be a particularly hard season for returning birds to meet their nourishment needs because their food sources haven’t quite “sprung” fully to life yet. With this simple-to-make bird feeder, you and your family can help nourish the birds and catch a glimpse of the beautiful chirping choir in the process. They’re so easy to put together, you can make several.
Step 1: Find an Apple
Select an apple that will serve as the foundation of your feeder. This can be a fresh apple, or one that has passed its prime but still holds up somewhat sturdy. Cut the apple in half, and carve out the core with a spoon, leaving a generous edge.
Step 2: Prepare It for Hanging
Place a screw at the top or bottom of the apple, aiming for as close to the core as possible without it poking through the carved-out portion. Attach a weather-resistant string to the screw for hanging the finished bird feeder. The string length can vary depending on where you hang it.
Step 3: Formulate & Mix the Seed
Mix your desired bird seed. When selecting seed for your bird feeder, find a mix that appeals to a wide range of birds in order to experience the diversity of avian life in your area. I like to tailor my own mix to the birds that call our land home, and also to avoid fillers that can be found in pre-mixed seed. Wild Birds Unlimited, a retailer that specializes in bird-feeding supplies, recommends seed mix options:
- Nyjer Seeds: (also known as thistle seeds) finches
- Sunflower Chips: bluebirds, finches, nuthatches, sparrows
- Black Sunflower Seeds: finches, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, jays
- Safflower Seeds: grosbeaks, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, finches
- Millet: juncos, towhees, doves, quail, sparrows
- Shelled Peanuts: chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays, titmice
- Cracked Corn: doves, cardinals, jays, sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, crows
Step 4: Make It Sticky
Mix enough peanut butter with the seed so that it all sticks together—this doesn’t have to be a precise amount. I prefer to use natural peanut butter for this, as excessive sugars and salts aren’t good for the birds’ health.
Step 5: Apply the Seed Mix
Spoon the mix into the hollowed-out apple. The peanut butter should keep the seed attached to the apple while giving the birds ready access to it. If the seed seems to fall out of the bird feeder easily, you might need to add more peanut butter.
Step 6: Hang It All Up
Hang the bird feeder in a spot where you can watch the birds come to feast, and enjoy the show!