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Did you know that we share the earth with over 10,000 species of birds? Birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors make their homes in our backyards, in nearby parks, school yards, and even down by the South Platte River!

Bird watching is a great way to spend time in your favorite outdoor space—all you need are your eyes and ears!  One way to attract birds to the place you live is to hang a bird feeder. 

This month’s project is to make a Birdie Buffet, a gourmet restaurant for your feathered friends!  After the word gets out that you have the best birdseed in town, you can enjoy watching your hungry customers come and go!

What You Need

 
1. An empty small milk carton (the kind at school)
2. A stapler
3. A hole punch
4. Scissors
5. 1 piece of yarn or string about 1 ½ feet long
6. Materials for decorating: permanent markers, paint, stickers, glue, or natural materials such as leaves, twigs, grass, etc.
7. Bird seed
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What You Do  
1. Open up the top flap of the carton all the way.
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2. Wash out the empty carton and dry it really well.
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3. Cut a rectangle out of one of the sides of the carton.  This will be the door to your restaurant.  (Get an adult to help you with the cutting!)  Make sure not to cut your door all the way to the floor, leave a few inches at the bottom of your door so the bird seed won’t fall out!
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4. Staple the top opening closed.
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5. Decorate your restaurant with paint, permanent markers, stickers, or whatever you have around the house—use your imagination!  You could even collect natural materials like twigs, leaves, grass, rocks, dirt for decorating your birdie buffet.
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6. Use the hole punch to make a hole in the top flap of the carton. (If you don’t have a hole punch just ask an adult to help you cut a hole using scissors.)
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7. Cut a piece of yarn or string about 1 ½ feet long.
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8. Thread the piece of yarn or string through the hole at the top of the container and tie a knot.  Make sure there is a pretty big loop in the string so you can hang your birdie buffet on a branch.
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9. Fill your birdie buffet with bird seed and you are open for business!  (Tip: If you don’t want to serve bird seed at your restaurant, try putting one of these other tasty treats on the menu: Small bread scraps, fruit pieces, or even orange juice.  Different types of food will attract different types of birds, so you can experiment with what makes your neighborhood birdie friends happiest!)
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Don’t have the supplies needed for this project?  Try one of these other ideas!
·       Fill a pie tin with some bird seed and set it on a stool, a tree stump, or a low hanging branch.
·       Find a pinecone and spread peanut butter all over it.  Roll the pine cone in bird seed and use a piece of string to hang it from a tree branch.
·       Tie a string around a small jar (like a baby food jar).  Fill the jar about half way with orange juice and hang from a tree branch.  It will hang crooked, but birds will perch on the rim of the jar and take little sips!
·       Use your imagination and creative thinking to make your own unique birdie buffet restaurant!
 
You can learn a lot from quietly observing birds!  Here are some things to look for when watching your customers visiting your restaurant:
·      How does your customer fly?  Does it soar way up high or move quickly from tree to tree?
·      What does your customer sound like? Each species of bird has its own unique bird call!
·      How does your customer build its home?  Look around for signs of his or her home.  Do you see a nest made of leaves and twigs in a tree or a mud nest somewhere different? (The cliff swallow makes its nest out of mud hidden in places like under bridges or in caves!)
·      What does your customer look like?  What color feathers does he or she have? Does he or she have a long or short beak?  Is he or she big or small?
 
By opening up a new birdie buffet restaurant, you are sharing the space where you live with nature.  Birds are your next-door neighbors after all!  You want to welcome them into your neighborhood!
 
Wondering if bird feeders are really healthy for birds?  Learn more about why providing food, water and shelter near your home is supporting birds and helping them thrive in their ever-shrinking habitat.  http://audubonathome.org/birdstohelp/
 
Resources:
http://www.osweb.com/kidzkorner/feeder.htm

mary-01.jpgCrusher's Crafts are created by SPREE staffer Mary Palumbo.  Each month Mary comes up with a new craft that can be made from household items and found objects from just outside your front door.

 

Look on the left column for a complete list of all the crafts!