Christmas holidays are a time to spend extra time with family and friends.
The activities need not be expensive but need to be at a level that all can participate and not just watch. Birdfeeders can be very simple and easy to make to complex requiring many hours or days. If the complex ones are of interest purchase a book or a pattern to insure the desired results.
Simple easy ones can often be made out of recycled items or things found around the house.
A simple suet birdfeeder requires lard or suet and peanut butter. For a more deluxe mix include raisons, nuts or seeds.
Suet can be found at the butchers or it can be purchased as lard. If you are using suet it will have to be rendered down or cut into very small pieces.
Any peanut butter works but look for a brand with less salt, sugar and preservatives. Birds like humans do not need the extras in their diet.
Cut the raisons and nuts into tiny pieces. It allows the birds to consume the items easier and the product goes further.
Start by scooping similar amounts of peanut butter and suet into a container. If seeds, raisons and nuts are to be added do so now.
Mix all ingredients together until it is fairly consistent through out the mixture. Large portions of this material will be stiff and hard to mix. Either have young children take turns mixing or give them small amounts.
Scoop the mixture into a net bag and hang it outside. Make sure the suet feeder is high enough off the ground that it will not be eaten by dogs.
If a net bag is not available suet can be smeared on a piece of wood or plastic and suspended from a string. Place as much suet on the holder as will stay in place. Store extra suet in the fridge and spread it on the hanger when needed.
Birds are also attracted to sunflower seeds. The container that holds the seeds can be quick and easy or more time consuming.
Making a suet feeder is a sticky, greasy activity so plan accordingly.
One of the easiest seed feeders requires a milk jug or carton.
Start by drawing a circle on the side of the container. The size of the hole cut will determine what type of bird can feed. The bird must be able to land on the edge of the hole and stick its head inside to eat. The larger the hole the larger the bird. Smaller holes insure that scavenger birds such as magpies and crows will ignore the feeder.
Once the hole is cut, fill the feeder with seed and place it high enough that dogs and deer can not use it as a feeder.
Sunflower seed is the preferred food for most of the birds in Central Alberta.
Expect a bit of a mess as discarded shells will pile up under the feeder. If this is a problem purchase shelled seed.
Bird seed mixes are also available. When purchasing a bird seed mix make sure that local birds eat all types of seed in the mix. If they don’t like the seed they will avoid the feeder or push the seed out of the feeder onto the ground.
While it is nice to continually feed the birds, they will not starve if the feeder is empty.
Birds have numerous food sources and stop visiting them when the food is eaten.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or firstname.lastname@example.orgM/i>