Bird box and peanut kebabs


Spring is on the way - our hens are laying again and we're starting to feed the widl birds

Van Gogh blue winter skies, frosted ground and notebook in hand Nell, 8, and I wait for the birds to come. It’s the RSPB’s big bird weekend and we’ve been preparing  to get to know our birdlife. This isn’t a sudden attempt, ever since she was tiny I’ve earmarked one 4am slot in May to listen to the dawn chorus, and we do try to care for our garden birds (mostly by not having a cat). This post is by Nicola Baird

Nell went on a bird watching trip with school to the local nature park and can now identify all the wood pigeons that roost locally. Then together we went to a kiddy bird day at our nature park and found out how to make bird feeders with lard and seeds, a peanut kebab for tits, use binoculars AND make our own bird box.

Nell's make your own bird haul: one box, two nut kebabs and a birdcake.

Now I’ve done bird box making before, it took a day of sweat on an assessed course, but when someone else has kindly cut out the pieces and is there to help create a new bird box for the start of the breeding season it is as simple as mixing bird cake. You can see the basic how to do it plan here at the RSPB’s site. 

I held the nails while Nell knocked them in studiously. She also did all the sandpapering and quite soon one DIY beginner and me (a DIY dunce) had created our own bird box within half an hour. Inspired I then asked my friend Robert to help put it up close to Nell’s bedroom window. This may not be the best site as it’s potentially too hot (there are cooler-sited bird boxes on the north side) but for now I think Nell’s immense pride from the making is more important than tit air con.

Nell made this. Now we just need blue tits to check in.

The experience has also encouraged Nell to get better at bird ID, and so now when a sparrow, blue tit or coal tit comes to feed near our apple tree she’s the one who tells us the names of the visitors. And then we go outside and peer up once again at our bird villa in the sky hoping it’ll soon attract spring chicks. I suppose the MP with the floating duck island for his moat felt the same feathery generosity, although now he must surely wish he’d tried making it himself.

Peanut kebabs are a great lure if you want to see birds close-up.

Make a nut kebab
1 Buy a packet of peanuts in their shells

2 Use a metal skewer to make a central hole

3 Thread the peanut on to a string (hard) or a wooden skewer (easy but watch out so you don’t stab yourself)

4 Tie a string to the top or second top knot and then hang by the bird table, tree or anywhere that birds might like to feed (ie, safe from cat attack).

Make birdcake
This is a good activity for after school/nursery, at a school club or even a birthday party.
It doesn’t take long, but it can be very messy. See RSPB’s  cartoon guide here

1 Buy a packet of lard (or use left over animal fat from your cooking), chop into cubes and allow to soften in a big bowl

2 Add scoops of sunflower seeds, raisins, grated cheese, peanuts, bird seed mix. Mix it all well so a sticky, hard, gloop

3 Make a hole in the top of a small yoghurt pot or plant pot (with a skewer). Then thread through enough string to allow you to tie a twig at the open end and still leave a long piece of thread at the top to tie to branch/bird table etc.

4 Push the mix into the pot. When it’s full and if it’s cold enough take outside to chill (or pop in a fridge for an hour to get hard enough to stay in the pot). Then hang up, ideally in a spot where you can watch the feeding frenzy.

Good luck, let me know your clever bird attracting techniques…

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One Comment on “Bird box and peanut kebabs”

  1. […] Bird box and peanut kebabs February 2010 5 […]

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