It is important to put a high emphasis on developing a love of nature in children. These pine cone bird feeders are easy to make, inexpensive and perfect for young children. They are also a wonderful way for children to learn what birds eat and to be able to take a closer look at birds when they come feed in your backyard! What an great opportunity to watch nature at work.

These bird feeder are simple to make they only take about 10 minutes. This makes them the perfect activity for little hands.

Best Ages for This Activity

This activity is great for 2 to 5-year-old children.

How to Make It


  • A pinecone
    • You should find plenty of these outside. Otherwise use an ice cream cone. Any cone will work, but the best ones are the larger, broader ones, because they hold more food and are easier for birds to cling to, swaying less as they feed. Do not use anything other than natural pinecones as processed, glittered or sprayed pinecones can be harmful to the birds.
  • String or twine – a piece long enough for hanging it from a tree or hook. Yarn or ribbon works too.
    • Don’t use dental floss or fishing line as the birds can get entangled in it.
  • Peanut butter (It doesn’t matter if it is crunchy or smooth. If peanut butter is not available, suet, lard, vegetable shortening or any other nut butter will do.)
  • Birdseed or black oil sunflower seeds. You can also add (not necessary) pieces of nuts or small bits of fruit. This will attract more species of birds. If you don’t want to buy bird seeds, just use nuts, fruit or even just the peanut butter.
  • A butter knife or plastic knife for your child to spread the peanut butter on the cone (of course, no one said you couldn’t use your fingers)
  • A bowl or Tupperware to put the seeds in (then you will roll the pinecone in it)


  • Tap the pinecone lightly to remove debris. Trim off any loose scales.
  • Tie the string or twine around the feeder. The top of the string can be left open in order to tie it to a branch for hanging.

  • Use the knife or spreader to coat the cone with a layer of peanut butter, as thick or thin as your child wishes (ask them what they prefer, what they think the birds would prefer).
  • Once the cone is coated with peanut butter, roll it into the bowl with birdseeds. Add larger seeds, nut pieces, or fruit pieces if you wish, pressing them into the peanut butter. The birds will have no trouble removing them.
  • If you made too many bird feeders, you can freeze them
  • Once you finish, you can hang your birdfeeder anywhere. I would suggest near a window, where your child can see, so they can feel the joy and satisfaction of seeing the birds eating the food they made for them! This is the most important step of all. Find an area in the shade if possible, so the peanut butter doesn’t melt. This feeder can be hung any time of the year, especially during winter, when birds don’t find food as easily.
  • Before you know it, your new feeder will be a hotspot for chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, crossbills, woodpeckers, and other birds! Once they finish one cone, you can hang another one. This is one more thing your child can do to take care of nature around them.

Learning Opportunities

Making the bird feeders is a good fine motor skills activity, a precursor to writing. The spreading of the peanut butter, the rolling evenly in the seeds, all are good fine motor movements, as is tying a string to a pinecone as well as to a tree.

Getting close to nature is the most important aspect of this learning activity, so take your time discussing birds and nature with your child. Your child will learn about birds (what they eat, when they eat, where they live, if and when they migrate) and can be a great precursor to learning about wildlife. Teach them to observe the natural world around them, and to contribute to it in a non-invasive, kind, natural way.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Learn about the birds that live in your area and see if you can spot them. Use a cheap pair of binoculars if you need to. You can learn about Canadian birds here and see what birds you can spot in your backyard.
  • Learn about what birds eat and see if that is available in your backyard
  • Draw the birds you see
  • Take photos and paste to a journal
  • Modify the recipe (add fruits or nuts) and see of you attract different birds
  • Help your child monitor the bird feeder and see when it’s a good time to switch it for a new one
  • See if your neighbourhood has a nature program that you can attend with your child, to learn more about wildlife in your area
  • Learn to recognize different bird songs that you can hear from home
  • Learn to whistle (to sing like a bird)
  • Tell your child a story about your childhood that involved a bird (Mine is when I was three and my grandfather came to visit. We were walking down the street and saw a bird on the ground that was injured. We picked it up and nursed it back to health. I have other stories about birds, but I will never forget that one).
  • Ask your child what they think of birds, what they feel when they think of birds, what birds they like, what birds they heard, etc.
  • Next time you travel, pay attention to the local birds, and see how they differ from the ones you learned about back home.
  • Look for feathers on your next walk, and take them home – start a collection of beautiful feathers and try to find out what bird they might have come from
  • Visit an aquarium or zoo near you to see different species of birds
  • Talk about flying. Would your child like to know how to fly? Would it feel the same as going on an airplane? A hot air balloon? A helicopter? What other things fly? How do birds fly? How long can they fly for?
  • What other things do birds eat?
  • What birds can we have as pets? How do they feel about having birds as pets? Would they like to live in a cage?
  • Visit a bird sanctuary or rescue centre
  • Learn how birds make nests

Things to Keep in Mind

The more of this activity that your child can do independently, the better but please keep in mind that young children need adult supervision at all times.

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