We want to get the kids into some new green hobbies, bird watching in particular. Any tips for getting the kids (and the birds) interested?
Credit: Louise Docker
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Bird watching is a great green hobby to introduce the kids to - it's simple yet exciting, and they can definitely be involved in a hands-on way in attracting colourful birds to the yard.
To do this you can keep them occupied for an hour or so making pine cone birdfeeders. This will help draw in native species, especially if water is available for them as well.
These birdfeeders are pretty easy to make, so even the smaller kids can help. All you need is a large open pine cone, some string, birdseed, and something edible and sticky (peanut butter, lard, or suet are popular choices).
Tie the string around one end of the pine cone - the fat end is easiest. The other end of the string is used to hang the cone from a nearby tree, or other support.
Kids can just squish peanut butter onto the cone (making sure to poke plenty into the gaps). You might need to melt lard or suet a bit before coating the cones with these ingredients.
Once the cone has been made all sticky, roll it in some birdseed until it is covered.
Birds are creatures of habit, so they might take a while to notice your cone. Hanging it near to a water source like a birdbath will help clue them in that much quicker.
Then its just a matter of sitting back to watch - perhaps spend a relaxing afternoon picnicking on the lawn awaiting your new feathered friends.
And remember when you hang the cone up to put it somewhere that the local moggies won't be able to use as a buffet.
Don't hang it from an easy-to-reach tree branch, for example, or the kids might get a really good look at predator-prey relationships and your garden will be birdless!
To read more on the greatness of having birds in the garden, check out our article A bird in the bush.