Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Wednesday: Winter Backyard Feeder Birds

With the winter season in full swing, it's hard to get outside in shin-high snow (for now) and below freezing temperatures. I was excited to start Winter Wednesday Nature Studies! Not only will it get us outside enjoying our natural world, but we'll learn about it too! And, after seeing our beautiful male Cardinal, several Tufted Titmice and oodles of Blue Jays and Black-capped Chickadees visiting our newly filled feeders this past week, I knew we HAD to study non-migrating birds! (And maybe one of these weeks we'll study Gray Squirrels because we have one that just LOVES our feeders!)

We researched homemade suet recipes on-line and decided to use a simple, po
pular favorite: mixing softened vegetable shortening with wild bird seed. We used 2 kinds of bird seeds (including one with dried fruits and nuts), uncooked rolled oats, corn meal, Cheerios, and wheat germ to give our birds a variety of nutrients. After slightly melting the shortening in the microwave - a minute was plenty - we mixed in the seed mixture then filled disposable paper cups with it and a piece of twine for a hanger. The suet cups set in the freezer after 30 minutes. And, once the cups were peeled away, we had LOTS of suet to hang from our Cherry and Crap-apple trees!

We used our favorite bird field guide, Birds of Maine by Stan Tekiela, and Cornell's Bird Coloring Book from the Handbook of Nature Study Blog, to do a Black-capped Chickadee notebooking page. Chickadees are Maine's state bird and plentiful at backyard bird feeders. (Our feeders are no exception!) These little birds have LOUD calls! They are cavity-nesters who use moss and animal fur to build with, and, according to our guide, can be tamed and hand-fed!

Unfortunately this afternoon's CHILLY temperatures and, well, ME having a terrible head cold made it hard to spend time outside. We hung up our GREAT suet feeders, but our time enjoying the outdoors was short. Next Wednesday, right?


  1. Love your blog-- newest follower from Welcome Wednesday Blog hop... hoping you'll stop by and follow me back.

  2. Oh you are my kind of girl ! So much fun ! I am so sure the kids LOVED it ! I love it too :)
    Great tutorial and pictures !!!
    Hope you are having fun with the blog hop ! New to yours and following ! Come say hi and follow back !
    Happy New Year !

  3. Out for a little hopping..come by Lucy's when you get a chance.

  4. Love this! I've been looking for things to do that involve the cold Canadian winter. Thanks for giving me some ideas.

  5. Great idea!! I'd like to try making the suet feeders, just wish we had trees closer to the house so we could better see the birds that visit. Maybe I need to get more binoculars so the kids don't fight over them. LOL

  6. Those chickedees are lovely - we have 2 bird feeders and get some really lovely birds to the table. Mainly woodpeckers, robins, blue tits and general garden birds, but always a pleasure to watch.

    CJ xx

  7. Thanks for hoppin' by Karen, Frenchy and Lucy!

    I hope you enjoy Winter Wednesdays too, Sam! The kids were excited to see all the birds (and squirrels too) that have been visiting our feeders this morning.

    Trees are important, Kym, but some birds will come to window feeders (like Chickadees). We have several pairs of binoculars though! LOL

    Aren't they fun to see, Crystal!

  8. I've tried to make bird hangers before, but I used deer fat and it burned. I was very sad! I'll have to try it with shortening this time.

  9. I melted the vegetable shortening in the microwave in 30 seconds intervals, stirring inbetween, until the shortening was VERY soft, but not liquid. And once the shortening was mixed with seeds and "set" in the freezer for a little while, they came out great! The birds and squirrels are lovin' them!

  10. This was a great example of a winter nature study right in your own backyard. I love that you are incorporating the Winter Wednesday ideas, the coloring book for the birds, and then making the suet feeders too. Thank you so much for sharing your link with the OHC.

  11. Oh what a wonderful winter day! I feel cozied right up there with ya in the snow! Thanks for sharing!

  12. You're welcome, Barb! The kids have been VERY excited about Winter Wednesday! In fact, just today my 2 youngest sat in camp chairs near the feeders with binoculars and watched the birds (and squirrels) INSTEAD of watching TV! Looking forward to these studies!

    Thanks for stopping in, Pebblekeeper!

  13. Don't be too hard on yourself. Even 10 minutes a week outside counts. You don't need to spend hours out there. I love your activities.

  14. Thanks, Phyllis! We're hoping to go on a walk in the wooden backyard this Wednesday.

  15. Looks like the kids were enjoying this project!!

    I am blog hopping today and decided to stop by your blog!!

    I hope you will stop by and follow either or both of my blogs.

    Jessicas Lil Corner is my family blog at

    So Stylilized is where I am currently offering FREE custom blog designs at

    Have a very blessed rest of the week!! :0)


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