I’ve just been watching a dear little robin through the window, head cocked, eyes bright – that’s the robin, not me! I always start to fret about the garden birds at this time of year as it gets colder.
I don’t know if it is significant, but I have never seen so many rowan berries as there have been this year, and also lots of holly berries… does that foretell of a bad winter or a mild one? Anyway, forearmed is forewarned and I recently saw this lovely idea for winter bird feeding, so I thought I’d share it with you…
The pine cone, beloved of crafters and flower arrangers everywhere, makes an excellent natural base for a bird feeder. Its open structure is just asking to be stuffed full of titbits for our feathered friends.
- Begin by collecting some medium to large pine cones. Don’t worry if they are tightly closed as, once you bring them indoors, they will open. If they are bit reluctant, give them a short warm in the oven.
- Attach string to the top of the cone ready to hang it up.
- Now, the world is your oyster, or indeed your pine cone! You may want to put rubber gloves on at this point as it gets messy… Spread suet, fat or even peanut butter over the cone, making sure you get it into the gaps between the scales and cover the whole thing.
- Place a mix of birdseed on a tray and roll your sticky pine cone until well coated. If you go for a general bird mix, you’ll attract a variety of birds. You could make several pine cone feeding stations and roll others in specific seeds, such as niger for example and you should attract that beautiful, colourful little bird, the goldfinch.
- Put your bird feeders in the fridge for an hour or so to make everything set.
- Finally, hang your masterpiece in a secluded area of your garden close enough to a hedge or shrub to give a safe haven for the birds if need be, but not somewhere that is likely to help any passing cats get at the birds!