A pine cone bird feeder is an easy, fun and affordable project ideal for all ages. With just a few basic supplies and simple steps, anyone can turn a pine cone into a feeder that will attract woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, finches and a wide range of other backyard birds.
What You Need:
Just four simple supplies are needed to make a pine cone bird feeder, and they are items you are likely to have around the house.
- Pine Cone: A large, open pine cone the size of a fist or larger is best for a feeder, because it will hold more food and give birds more space to cling as they are eating. Collect cones in fall when they are open, or place tightly closed cones in a warm oven for several minutes until they open more fully. Do not use cones intended for craft projects or decorations, however, because the scents, glitter, paint or other accents on those cones can be toxic to birds.
- String: A length of string, ribbon, twine or yarn 12-24 inches long will be needed to hang your feeder. Any color or type of hanging material can be used, and choosing a colorful ribbon or pretty yarn can add a festive touch to the feeder, particularly for winter feeders or giving feeders as gifts.
- Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is the glue that will hold seed to your pine cone. Any brand or type of peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, can be used, and it can even be expired or outdated, but it should not be completely rancid. Avoid peanut butter that has sugar substitutes, because it will not provide as much essential nutrition for birds. In warmer weather or warm climates, mix peanut butter with a small amount of flour or corn meal so it is not quite as sticky and will not melt as quickly.
- Birdseed: Either mixed birdseed or sunflower seeds are best for pine cone bird feeders. In addition to seed, you can also have several whole or shelled peanuts, raisins or other bits of dried, unsweetened fruit to add to the feeder for decoration and additional bird-friendly treats.
Making Your Feeder
In just a few easy steps, you'll turn your pine cone into a bird feeder!
- Tie the string to the top of your pine cone, creating a loop that will be used to hang the feeder. It is easiest to do this step first, before the cone is coated with sticky peanut butter. For the most security, work the string firmly between sections of the cone.
- Use a blunt knife or spreader to thickly coat the cone with peanut butter. You can coat the entire cone from top to bottom, or create a thick line, lines or patches on the cone. Press the peanut butter slightly into the cone, taking care not to crack any parts of the cone, so it will stick better. Birds will happily dig out those extra bites!
- Roll the cone into the birdseed, pressing the seed into the peanut butter. This is easily done if the seed is on a paper plate or in a shallow container such as a pie tin. For more decorative feeders, create a thin, base layer of seed first, then use nuts, raisins or larger sunflower seeds to add patterns such as stripes, starbursts or other shapes by hand.
- Hang your feeder in a tree or bush where birds will find it easily. Position the feeder near a window where you can see the birds, and enjoy!
Whether you are making just one feeder or will make several, pine cone bird feeders are fast, easy projects that can turn any backyard into a bird feeding buffet.