Are your kids getting restless while stuck indoors this winter with the cold temperatures? It’s too cold to go outside and it might get a bit too boring staying inside. So what’s a parent to do? Why not keep the kids busy during the winter and make some feeders that give back to nature, specifically our feathered friends?
Winter can be harsh and the wildlife that sticks around tends to be resilient. Just like the “snowbirds” (the two-legged variety) that travel south to warmer climates to spend those cold winter months, some bird species do the same thing. Aside from the obvious reason that winter can be unpredictable and temperatures can plummet, making their three-season environment less than hospitable, the availability of food is the primary reason that some birds migrate.
Migrating can involve a great expenditure of energy and the reward must outweigh the cost of such a journey. For some birds, the migrating cost isn’t worth the reward and they are able to carve out a tiny niche in an otherwise extreme range. For those that choose to migrate, the food availability in their summer range isn’t readily available in the winter months. As the environment begins to change with the onset of fall, they take these instinctive cues and prepare for the journey ahead.
For those birds that opt to remain, winter can be a constant search for viable nutrition. (Depending on where you live, some birds you might find in the woods or in your own backyard are finches, sparrows, goldfinches, woodpeckers, chickadees and cardinals.) The readily available seeds and insects that are plentiful beginning in spring become almost nonexistent during the winter. So birds that don’t migrate have to adapt to changing conditions. Here are a few adaptations that have allowed certain species to remain in a given range year round.
Variable Food Sources
Birds that remain sedentary year round have adapted to a variety of food sources. While they may gorge on the abundant food sources during spring and summer, they make the switch as winter descends on their home range to include naturally available food sources.
Birds that survive during the colder months tend to molt as cooler temperatures approach to gain an extra layer of downy insulation to preserve body heat. As temperatures warm up heading into spring, the same birds will molt again, thus shedding the extra layer.
Birds that may not associate during the spring and summer may combine forces during the winter months. Their varied foraging techniques allow certain breeds to create a symbiotic relationship that increases the group’s viability.
Regardless of whether you utilize a store-bought feeder or take an afternoon to create one of these three feeders below, the results will provide hours of educational opportunities for you and your kids. Purchase a field guide to bird species for your region and keep it close to the window that provides the best view of your feeder(s). This way, you can identify new additions as they appear. It’s a great way to foster a love and appreciation of the outdoors during those long, cold winter days when playing outside may be limited.
After the kiddos have placed their feeder outside, a great way to commemorate what they’ve learned is to have them jot down their experience. In This Moment On a Hike book is an interactive book that encourages children to express themselves through art while sharing their thoughts and experiences. In This Moment also offers other books on various topics and special occasions that kids may want to write about, such as memories of spending the day with mom or dad, remembering holidays and a birthday celebration. You can visit In This Moment for more information and see sample pages, or go here to purchase “On a Hike” and start tracking those special moments on trail with your kiddos.
Have you also made bird feeder crafts with your kids? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments in below.
Materials: Twine, Cheerios, Scotch tape
- Tie a knot at one end of the twine.
- Apply Scotch tape to the other end to make threading easier.
- Pull Cheerios through the twine, and tie the ends together to make a loop.
PINECONE BIRD SEEDS
Materials: Bird seeds, Pine cone, Peanut butter, Twine, Parchment paper
- Tie twine to the top of the pine cone.
- Spread peanut butter all over pine cone.
- Roll in bird seeds and lay on parchment paper to dry.
Materials: Round cardboard, Bird seeds, Peanut butter, Twine
- Cut cardboard into small sections.
- Loop twine through cardboard and tie ends.
- Spread peanut butter around cardboard.
- Roll in bird seeds and set aside to dry.
Note: Remember to pick only pine cones from your yard. Some options to look for in bird seeds that provide nutrients for birds are black oil sunflower seeds, peanut butter, hulled peanuts, thistle seeds and suet mixes. Visit this great resource for more bird-feeding tips from Audubon. Also, when hanging, keep them as far away out of reach of squirrels if possible.
This sponsored blog was written by Clay Abney. Video by David Hamilton.
This post is sponsored by In This Moment. In this Moment helps parents simply capture time.
Kid-friendly, interactive, and minimalistic in design, the “On a Hike” logbook makes keeping and holding onto your child’s hiking experiences truly meaningful for all.