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Supported by Generation Green

Feed the birds

Learn about the natural world by making a bird feeder packed with delicious treats for our feathered friends. Who will visit?

You will need

  • Mixing bowls
  • Wooden spoons
  • String
  • Spoons
  • Pine cones or yoghurt pots
  • Nail or screwdriver (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Lard, suet or coconut oil
  • Dried fruit
  • Grated cheese
  • Bird seed
  • Tablecloths or newspaper
  • Sticks (optional)
Activity plan (Feed the birds)
PDF – 599.8KB

Before you begin

  • This activity works best in autumn or winter, as that’s when birds need food the most. The colder weather also helps stop the bird feeders melting. If you’re making these in spring or summer, you could store them in the fridge until the birds need them.
  • It’s up to you whether you use pine cones as bases, yoghurt pots as moulds, or apples as bird feeders. If you’re using the yoghurt pots, you’ll need a nail or screwdriver and some scissors. We’ve included instructions for all of the methods so you can choose what works for you.
  • If you’re using pine cones, put them on a radiator or a sunny windowsill for a few hours to make sure they’re fully open.
  • Cover tables with wipe clean tablecloths or newspaper, and set out the ingredients and equipment. You’ll need about one part fat (lard, suet, or coconut oil) to two parts of the other ingredients. It’s best to make sure that the fat is at room temperature.
  • You’ll need to allow time for the bird feeders to set – they’ll probably need at least an hour in the fridge.

Safety checklist

Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include: 

  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Make sure people wash their hands before and after using any shared equipment or resources. 
  • Clean any equipment between different people using it.
  • Remind everyone to stay a safe distance apart at all times. If it works better for you, people could do this activity individually, rather than in pairs or small groups.

Chat about feathered friends

  1. Everyone should take it in turns to share what they know about birds. How many different birds can everyone name? Can they see or hear any? Who can do the best bird impression?
  1. The person leading the activity should explain that, as well as being beautiful to see and hear, birds are an important part of our ecosystems (where plants, animals, the weather, and the landscape work together to form a bubble of life).
  1. The person leading the activity should explain that some species of birds are struggling – we know this because there are fewer of them than there used to be. Some of the birds that are struggling are found in parks and gardens, for example, house sparrows and starlings.
  1. Everyone should think about what they could do to help birds in their local area.

 Mix it up

  1. Everyone should split into small groups, and go to a table with ingredients and equipment.
  1. Everyone should add the room temperature fat to the bowl, and squash it with the wooden spoon. Everyone can have a turn at squishing it – there’s no such thing as too much squishing in this activity!
  1. Each group should add the other ingredients a little bit at a time and stir them into the softened fat – it’s up to them whether they use a spoon or get stuck in with their hands. Everyone should have a turn at adding ingredients or stirring the mixture, until all of the ingredients and fat are nicely mixed together.

Option 1: craft the cone

  1. Everyone should tie a piece of string around the top row of a pine cone’s scales so the cone can hang up.
  2. Everyone should use their fingers (or a wooden lollipop stick) to squish the bird food mixture into and around their cone until it forms a ball shape.

Option 2: pack the pots

  1. Everyone should carefully use the nail or screwdriver to make a hole in the bottom of their clean yoghurt pot.
  1. Everyone should thread a piece of string through the hole. They should tie a knot inside the yoghurt pot to keep the string in place.
  2. Everyone should make a loop out of the rest of the string. They should be able to hang their yoghurt pot up so the opening faces the floor.
  1. Everyone should use a spoon, a wooden lollipop stick, or their fingers to squish the bird food mixture into their yoghurt pot until it’s full and tightly packed.

Set and position the feeders

  1. Everyone should put their feeders in the fridge (or another cool place) to harden.
  2. If people have used yoghurt pots, they should gently remove the pot from their set bird feeder. It should come off quite easily – if it seems stuck, someone should use scissors to carefully cut it off.
  1. Everyone should hang their feeders and wait to see which birds visit for a treat.
  1. Everyone should make a note of (or draw) any birds they see. Can anyone name any of them? Did they hear them make a sound? What colours did they notice?
  1. Once the birds have eaten all of the mixture, everyone could make some more. Why not experiment with the ingredients? What did the birds like most?

Reflection

This activity was a chance to help your community. How else can people help the natural world around them? People could plant wildflowers for bees, pick up litter in the park or at the beach, or leave water out for birds. Making bird feeders was a little activity that was lots of fun – but it’ll make a big difference. There are lots of other small things people can do to help their communities. Can anyone think of any?

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Scissors

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Food

Check for allergies before you begin and read the guidance on food safety. Make sure you have suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.