By Lisa Justice
Winter can be a great time to observe birds in your own back yard. Birds that spend their winter in the Davis area are always on the lookout for something to eat. By providing a reliable food source for local birds in your back yard, you can create a wonderful opportunity to observe wildlife from the comfort of your own home.
And the best part is that you don’t even need a fancy bird feeder. You can make your own with a pine cone and a few simple supplies around the house.
You’ll need a pine cone, a piece of string, some peanut butter, a table knife or spatula, a shallow dish and some birdseed.
Use the table knife or spatula to spread peanut butter on the pine cone. The peanut butter helps the birdseed stick and also may attract some other interesting wildlife, like squirrels, for you to observe. If you’re allergic to peanut butter, you can substitute almond butter.
Once your pinec one is covered in peanut butter, pour some birdseed in the shallow dish. Then roll your pine cone in the seed. Make sure your cone is loaded with plenty of seeds to attract lots of birds.
Now you’re ready to hang your bird feeder outside. Try hanging it from a tree branch where birds normally hang out to make it easy for the birds to find.
Also, think about placing it somewhere you can view easily. Maybe you want to hang it near a window so you can observe from indoors.
To hang your bird feeder, tie one end of the string to the top of your pine cone. Then tie the other to the tree branch where you want the feeder to hang.
Now, get to work observing. Check your feeder for a few minutes every day. What kinds of birds stop by to use it? Are there lots of different types of birds, or just one or two? Can you identify them? How frequently do they come? Do other animals use the feeder, too?
Keep track of the birds and other animals that use your feeder by keeping a journal. Make note of the days and times your feeder gets used and what types of birds you observe. You may see a finch or a wren or a magpie.
You also can keep track of your bird observations by taking pictures of the creatures that visit your feeder. You can then share your pictures by uploading them to Explorit’s facebook page.
Be sure to refresh your feeder with more birdseed and peanut butter every few days or as needed to keep your feathered friends coming back for more.
— Explorit’s newest Exhibition, “Forces of Nature,” is open the first full weekend of every month from 1 to 5 p.m. This exhibition welcomes the public back to the Explorit Nature Center at 3141 Fifth St., and will feature some of the best of Explorit’s past exhibits. For more information, call (530) 756-0191 or visit www.explorit.org, or “like” Explorit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb