Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Peanut-Buttery Crunch

Well, the writing bug seems not to be biting this week, so instead of deep and complex nature thoughts (yeah, right) I've decided to share with you a simple and fun family nature activity. Grab a couple of kids or kids-at-heart and have some messy fun with this one:

Peanut Butter Pinecone Birdfeeders

- one pine cone per feeder
- jar of peanut butter (crunchy is best)
- birdseed (optional)
- string or twine

Step 1: Gather pine cones from your yard, your neighbor's yard, the public park (as long as it's not a state or national park - there we take only photographs and leave only footprints).

Step 2: Bring the pine cones back inside so you don't freeze out in the cold!

Step 3: Somewhere you can make a big mess (e.g. kitchen table covered with newspaper) set out the pine cones and the peanut butter as well as a dish of birdseed (if you have it, black oil sunflower seed is best).

Step 4: Using your hands or spoons, smear the peanut butter all over the pine cone, making sure to stuff as much as you can into the cracks and crevices.

Step 5: Roll the sticky, peanut buttery pine cones in the bird seed to coat.

Step 6: Cut a nice long length of string and tie one end around the fat end of the pine cone. Hang outside from a tree branch.

Step 7: Watch the birds enjoy their winter treat!

Late winter residents will appreciate the calories from the peanut butter and birdseed - remember, birds' average body temperature is 104 degrees Farenheit, so they've got to burn a lot of fuel to maintain that internal temperature when outside temps drop below freezing. Also, any early migrants you have flying through the area will be happy to stop by your pine cone diner to fill up before flying further north. Do be a good host or hostess and provide them with a drink of water as well - any cheap terra cotta pot underliner can become an instant birdbath - just set it on a stump or a pile of rocks and keep it full and ice-free.

And after you're all done and all washed up, remember to sit down by a window with a hot cup of tea and enjoy a good view of all the great birdie action. I think I'll go do that now (maybe the writing bug is hiding out near the window).

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