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How to make a bird feeder

Making a pinecone bird feeder
Making a pinecone bird feeder | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

You can help garden birds keep hunger at bay with these easy-to-make feeders. Hang them up in a tree when you’re finished and watch as our feathered friends enjoy your work.

Attracting birds into your garden

If you’d like to see a variety of birds in your garden at any time of the year, there are a range of treats you can leave out like sunflower hearts and suet cakes. Better still, you can make your own bird feeder by following the instructions below.

What you’ll need

  • Large open pinecones
  • Vegetable fat or lard
  • Small seed bird feed
  • Mixing bowls
  • String

Building a bird feeder step by step

Step one
Tie string to the top of your pinecone.
Step two
Soften the vegetable fat with your hands or on a stove. 
Step three
Add the bird seed a bit at a time until it sticks together easily.
Step four
Gently squash the mixture into all the holes in your pinecone.
Step five
Roll the cone in even more seed to coat the outside.
Step six
Tie your finished feeder directly onto a tree branch.

A nation of bird lovers

According to the journal Nature Communications, more than half of British homeowners feed the birds in their gardens, supporting over 133 different species.

Commenting on the research, Peter Brash, animal ecologist at the National Trust, said: 'This is really interesting research and proves that many more species are adapting to a relatively new food source.

Feeding birds in the garden can really help some species survive periods of extreme weather, especially cold and snow. This is when you’re likely to get the greatest variety of birds as they come in from the wider countryside or even the continent.

A quote by Peter BrashNational Trust Animal ecologist

Top tips for feeding birds safely

Always avoid feeding water birds such as ducks and swans. To safely feed garden birds, follow these top tips:

  • Buy accredited bird food from reputable sources

  • Only provide food for a few days and feed in moderation to avoid food going off

  • Keep bird feeders separated so birds aren’t in too close contact

  • Regularly clean and disinfect feeders

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling bird feeders and faeces

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