Friday, November 2, 2012

DIY Pine Cone Bird and Squirrel Feeders

Some of you may remember this fun craft from when you were a kid. It was one of my favorites. I loved going out in the chilly weather with my mom to gather pine cones, making the feeders in our cozy kitchen, and watching and identifying each bird that snacked on our creation. This is a fun project to do with or without kids. It's a great craft to kick off the fall months and they look adorable hanging in the backyard!

I hope you have as much fun making these as I did!

What You Need

5 large pine cones (Experiment with different sizes and quantities!)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups mixed birdseed
Wire (I used beading wire), crimp beads and pliers or strong twine
1 shallow microwave-safe dish  (I used a short, square Gladware food storage container)
1 deep dish  (I used a tall, rectangle Gladware food storage container)
Pastry brush or clean paint brush
Wax paper

Make sure the pine cones are free of dirt. Cut 5 pieces of wire or twine, about 2 1/2 to 3 feet long each. Start by taking a pine cone and wrapping the wire once or twice around the middle, and tucking in the tail to keep it from unraveling. Now, continue wrapping the wire around and toward the top of the pine cone. When you get to the top of the pine cone, wrap the same spot several times, as well as thread the loose end of the wire under and through a few already-wrapped spots, and pull tightly, to secure (sort of like sewing!) You don't need to go over-board on the wrapping, but you do want to make sure that the pine cone isn't going anywhere- squirrels have some arm muscle! Position the wire so that the pine cone hangs straight down. Repeat for each pine cone.
Step 1: Wrap Pine Cone with Wire
Prepare your work area with a tablecloth. 
Set aside a piece of wax paper in a safe place for drying.
Pour the 1 1/2 cups birdseed into the deep dish.
Pour the 3/4 cup peanut butter into the shallow microwave-safe dish. Microwave the peanut butter in 20 second intervals, stirring each time, until it becomes thin and runny.
Step 2: Prepare Your Work Area
Now the fun part! Take a pine cone, holding it by the top, and place it into the dish of melted peanut butter. Using a pastry brush or clean paint brush, 'paint' the pine cone with the peanut butter, turning it to coat it evenly. Make sure to use the brush to get into all the nooks and crannies and to coat both the tops and bottoms of the all the 'scales.' You may prefer to drizzle the peanut butter over the pine cone and then use the brush to spread it out. Whatever works for you! You'll probably need to reheat the peanut butter between each pine cone to keep it thin and easily-spreadable. Hold the pine cone by the wire over the dish and let the excess peanut butter drip off.
Step 3: Paint the Pine Cone with the Melted Peanut Butter

Now, place it into the container of birdseed and gently roll, shake and pour the seed over the pine cone to coat it thoroughly and evenly, again making sure to fill all those nooks and crannies!
Gently shake off any loose birdseed.
Step 4: Roll the Pine Cone in the Birdseed

Place the pine cone on the wax paper to dry, about 30 minutes. Repeat for all the pine cones.
Step 5: Allow the Pine Cones to Dry

Now it's time to hang your Pine Cone Bird and Squirrel Feeders!
Step 6: Hang the Pine Cones by Wrapping the Wire Around a
 Branch, Trellis or Other Support Very Securely
I used crimp beads from my jewelry supplies to hang the feeders. Hardware stores also sell a variety of crimps. Just thread a crimp onto the wire, wrap the loose end of the wire around the support (tree branch, board, etc), and thread the end of the wire back through the crimp from the top. Slide the crimp up the wires toward the support to tighten. Use pliers to squeeze the crimp closed and trim the excess wire.

If you don't have or don't want to use the crimps, simply just wrap the wire or twine around the support several times before tying and knotting the ends very securely. You may even want to hammer a nail into the support and wrap the wire or twine around it several times before knotting the ends.

Wherever you decide to hang your feeders, they must be secure, otherwise the squirrels will be running off with the pine cones (I speak from experience, much to the squirrels enjoyment!) This is why I prefer wire over twine- it's a lot stronger and not as easy for the squirrels to chew through.

This is What Happens When the Feeders Aren't Secured Tightly!
The deck in my backyard is the bird and squirrel hot-spot, so I decided to hang the feeders on the trellis that's on the deck. I hung them at different lengths for a pretty display. You can hang them however and wherever you like!! Hang them from whatever support you like: a fence, tree branch, trellis, gazebo- use your imagination! You could even attach the feeders to a wire clothes hanger that's been bent into a circle, or a small embroidery hoop, and hang the whole thing for a whimsical mobile display.
 Now sit back and enjoy watching the wildlife snack on your creations!


  1. Those are awesome 'action shots' of the squirrels! They make me smile : )

  2. Thanks Heather! Aren't they adorable? I love watching them out my back patio door, they always brighten my day!