Bird Feeders

Do you know a wood pigeon from a collared dove, a magpie from a crow, a wren from a sparrow?

Bird Feeders

Do you know a wood pigeon from a collared dove, a magpie from a crow, a wren from a sparrow?

You may have many different kinds of birds that live in habitats all around you, but they might not come into view if you don’t have any food or shelter to offer... until now.

This simple bird feeder will hopefully entice a few new birds to your area. Have a think about where you could place the feeder (just make sure you ask permission!).

Things you might need:

Yoghurt pot
Mixing bowl
Good quality bird seed
Grated cheese
Solid fat

Activity details:

Age: 8+
Difficulty: Medium
Preparation time: 1.5 hours
Running time: Ongoing

Learning points:

How to make a feeder
What birds eat
The diversity of birds

How to make a bird feeder:

  1. Carefully make a small hole in the bottom of the yoghurt pot using scissors.
  2. Make a loop of string and push it through the hole, tying a large knot on the inside of the pot. Make sure the loop is big enough to hang your bird feeder.
  3. Allow the solid fat (like lard or vegetable shortening) to warm up to room temperature, but don’t let it melt. Cut it into small pieces and put it into the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the other ingredients a bit at a time, and mix them together with your fingers. Keep adding the seed/raisin/cheese mix and squish it until the fat holds it all together.
  5. Fill the yoghurt pots with the bird cake mix, and put them in the fridge to set for an hour or so.
  6. Once they’ve set, hang the feeders from a tree, fence or bird table - keep the yoghurt pots attached.

Keep a tally of the birds that come to visit your feeders. You may wish to take some photos of the birds at the feeder and identify them using the iNaturalist app or another chart available online - see here for more info.


Clockwise from the top-left: Four of Darwin’s Galapagos finches, illustrated in Darwin’s Journal of Researches... - ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ (illustrated edition released in 1890). Followed by the Indian eagle-owl, Bubo bengalensis; the Spotted kingfisher, Actenoides lindsayi; and the Red-billed streamertail, Trochilus polytmus; all illustrated in Gray, Genera of Birds (1844–1849).

Food for thought:

Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection’ was formed, in part, by his observations of birds on the Galapagos islands.
He realised that the beaks of birds tended to be perfectly suited to their diet. He noticed that birds with long beaks were able to tear apart the flesh of a cactus, while shorter-beaked birds tore at the base and ate insect larvae as well.

Another example is that birds that prey on fish tend to have scooping beaks, while nectar-eating birds have long thin beaks. Take a look at the beaks on this page - can you work out what they mostly eat?

One last thing...

Why not take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch? It’s the world’s largest wildlife survey!