Autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Playing in the leaves, climbing up into the colorful canopy or swinging from branches, and collecting bits of nature to decorate your home for the holidays are all fun activities. Another way to enjoy the great outdoors this season with your kids is by observing and helping the animals that live around you, noticing how they each prepare differently for winter, and the cold weather ahead, when food and shelter are hard to find. The squirrels and chipmunks are looking for nuts and gathering dried leaves and other soft material to line their little dens and burrows with. And all the beautiful birds around are either getting ready to fly south, or hunkering down before winter arrives. Either way, making bird feeders with your kids and hanging them outside will help fatten up the birds up for their long, difficult migration ahead, or help keep the ones who stick around happier and healthier throughout the cold winter when food is scarce. Birdfeeders will also attract all sorts of beautiful feathered friends near your home, which you can then enjoy observing with your kids over time. There are two super easy, basic ways to make quick all-natural bird feeders with your kids (no tools needed!):
1) Find or buy a giant sunflower, and once you have enjoyed it's beauty and it's beginning to dry up, simply tie it on a string and hang it upside down, off a fence or tree branch, were birds can see it and fly over to feast on all it's healthy, delicious seeds. You can also spread the area around the seeds with some peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter (called "sunbutter") before hanging it as an extra fattening bird treat.
2) Find some large fallen pinecones. Bring them home and tie some thread around each one, leaving a long loop at the top, so you can hang them on a branch outside later. Then, using fingers or a small spoon, let your kids fill all the little nooks and crannies of the pinecones with sunbutter, peanut butter or any other nut butter. Then have your kids roll these sticky cones in a plate full of bird seed and add some small dried fruit like raisins, if you have those handy as well (they can just shove those in gently, in between the nooks of the pinecones).
Tada! You're done. Placing a flat, shallow dish of water on a log, a large rock or any other surface nearby will also allow your kids to enjoy observing a birdbath, and might attract some lovely insects like butterflies or dragonflies as visitors as well.
What do your kids enjoy observing in nature in the fall? Do they like watching birds?
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