raising little ones in the great outdoors

Pinecone Bird Feeder

I love backyard birds.  What these small creatures can endure, how far they can travel, and their nearly constant motion amaze me.  After a rainstorm, I often go outside and listen to their fluttering movements as they frantically forage for food.  And I love the easy projects that you can do to entice them into your backyard.

Birds use a lot of energy to maintain a constant body temperature. During the spring and summer, insectivorous birds eat insects, which provide fat and protein. When winter comes, insect abundance decreases as insects die or are dormant for the winter. Creating a suet feeder in your backyard gives birds another source of food and gives you the chance to observe them in an uncharacteristic moment of relative stillness.

What you need:

  • Pinecones, preferably open
  • String
  • Peanut butter/suet/vegetable shortening
  • Oatmeal or cornmeal
  • Birdseed mix from the store (you can make it high energy by adding some extra sunflower seeds or chopped nuts)
  • Plate or pie tin
Supplies needed to create pinecone bird feeder

Supplies needed to create pinecone bird feeder

  1. Tie a string around the pinecone.
  2. Mix ½ cup peanut butter/suet/shortening with ½ cup oats/cornmeal.
  3. Use a spoon (or fingers!) to spread the mixture onto the pinecone. Make sure to get the mixture into the open areas of the pinecone. It’s easier if the mixture is warm.
  4. Place birdseed in pie tin. Roll and press seed onto pinecone until well covered.

    Roll pinecone covered in sticky mixture in seeds

    Roll pinecone covered in sticky mixture in seeds

  5. Hang your pinecone feeder in a tree just outside you window. Try to place it away from the tree trunk so it’s more difficult for squirrels to get to it.


  • Fine mesh bag (think Laughing Cow cheese)
  • Same ingredients as above
  1. Mix peanut butter with the oats/cornmeal. Form into a rectangular cake.
  2. Roll peanut butter cake in birdseed.
  3. Place cake in mesh bag and hang in a tree!

Depending on where you live, you can expect a variety of birds. Potential visitors include chickadees, nuthatches, finches, jays, and even woodpeckers. I found a pdf of backyard birds from Seattle Audubon; you may find similar species living near you. Let us know how many different species of birds stop by for a visit!

-Becca Cahall

A finished pinecone feeder

A finished pinecone feeder

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