A wintertime feast for your feathered friends
Attract an assortment of birds with this simple project.
apple, orange, or grapefruit
jute twine (28" long pieces)
rubber bands (1/2" width)
3 ft. long bamboo garden stakes
hand towel or damp rag
cutting board or table
The Iowa Department of Transportation plants many fruit-bearing trees and shrubs in our state's roadsides. Not only do these plants beautify our landscape and prevent snow from blowing on roadways, they provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Birds gather food from many plants during the fall and winter months. These natural sources of food are where birds get most of their energy. Birds also need shelter for cover, roosting and nesting. If shelter is provided, birds are more likely to make the area a permanent home.
Normally, by January the fall's supply of seeds and berries are nearly gone. That makes the middle of winter the perfect time to provide your feathered friends with a fruity snack. The birds will appreciate the supplement to their winter diet, and your yard will come alive with activity.
These easy-to-make and colorful feeders supply valuable nutrients to many birds. The importance of these foods is significant during harsh winters; birds that have supplemental feeding will be more likely to withstand harsh conditions.
The materials needed for this project include inexpensive everyday items. The actual cost per feeder is approximately 50 cents. Step-by-step instructions are provided below.
Selecting a bird feed mix depends on the type of birds you're trying to attract. Birds have preferences when it comes to food types. To attract a certain species of bird, offer its favorite food. For example, goldfinches favor niger thistle seed. Cardinals, chickadees and mourning doves like black sunflower seeds. If you want to bring chickadees, blue jays and nuthatches to your yard or garden, try offering up some peanut butter in your feeder.
Not all birdseed mixes are the same. The best mix for attracting a variety of birds is 50 percent black sunflower seeds, 35 percent white proso millet and 15 percent cracked corn. Avoid seed mixes that contain milo (sorghum) and wheat since these seeds are not preferred by most birds.
(Adult supervision recommended)
Use a spoon and melon baller to scoop out some of the pulp to form a small well. Leave most of the pulp for your fruit-loving birds, and all of the remaining rind or skin. Put the pulp in the bowl (makes a nice fruit salad). Removing the pulp from citrus fruits produces a lot of juice and can result in a sticky mess. Keep a hand towel or damp rag nearby during this step. To keep your apple from browning, dip the exposed end in lemon juice.
Iowa DOT Home | Enviro-Explorers Home | What's New | Our Resources