See how to make pinecone bird feeder! DIY pine cone bird feeders are a fun activity for all ages and help get your feathery friends well through winter. This easy tutorial shows how to make bird feeders with and without peanut butter and shares tips for hanging the pinecones safely.
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DIY pinecone bird feeder
A few years ago, I shared homemade birdseed ornaments, and they have become one of our most popular tutorials. With winter fast approaching, I decided to create DIY pinecone bird feeders.
This bird feeder recipe is easy to make with simple materials, and we love watching our backyard birds come by for a snack.
Making bird food is also a fun craft project for kids! It’s a great way to teach them about nature and introduce them to wild birds. My husband is a teacher and always makes this bird feeder craft with his students.
For more easy pinecone craft ideas, try these pinecone fire starters, pinecone wreaths, pinecone Christmas tree, or these gorgeous pinecone ornaments.
What are pinecone birdfeeders?
Pinecone bird feeders are a type of bird feeder where large pine cones are covered in bird seeds. Fat or nut butter acts as a glue to adhere the seeds to the cone.
The pinecone is hung outside, and birds pick the seeds from the scales and enjoy a hearty meal in your garden.
Materials and supplies
For an easy bird food recipe like this, you don’t need a lot of fancy materials! Just pinecones, nut butter, and bird seeds. Here’s a breakdown of the material list:
- Pinecones: You need large, open pinecones with flared-out scales. Larger pine cones can hold more food and allow more space for birds to cling to. If you live in an area with pine trees, collect them in the wild. Pinecones are also available online or at the dollar store.
- Natural peanut butter helps to stick the bird seeds to the cones. I prefer smooth peanut butter, but chunky will also work. In case of peanut allergy, use sunflower seed butter, soy butter, Crisco, or suet.
- Birdseeds: Choose seeds for the birds that are already visiting your yard. You can also add pieces of nuts and chopped-up dried fruit like cranberries or raisins.
- String or twine for hanging the DIY pinecone bird feeder. Avoid very thin threads (dental floss, fishing line) as they can become a tangle hazard for birds.
- Small bowls for the peanut butter and bird seeds.
- Popsicle sticks or butter knives to apply the peanut butter.
- Tray or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (baking paper) to dry the pine cones.
- Paper towels or paper plates (optional) to protect your work surface.
- Scissors for cutting the string/twine.
How to make a pinecone bird feeder
Pine cone bird feeders are super simple to pull together, and you need around 10 minutes for 1 cone. Essentially, all you need to do is coat pinecones with peanut butter, and then roll in birdseed, and hang them in your backyard!
Step 1: Clean pinecones
- Foraged pinecones: Gently shake your pinecones to remove dirt and pine needles and remove and lose scales.
- Store-bought pinecones: Rinse them under warm, running water to remove any chemicals the cone may have been treated with. Let dry.
Step 2: Add string
- Cut a piece of string or twine to 8 in to 10 in / 20 cm to 25 cm long.
- Slip a knot around the top of your pinecone and tighten it securely in place.
- Tie a loop for hanging the DIY bird feeder or leave the string open to tie to a branch later.
Step 3: Apply peanut butter
- Add a dollop of peanut butter into a small bowl or dish.
- Using a popsicle stick or butter knife and working on a paper towel or paper plate, carefully spread peanut butter onto your pinecone.
- You can either coat the entire cone or just cover the top and bottom of each scale. Be sure to press the peanut butter between the scales and fill in large gaps. The more peanut butter you apply, the more seeds you can add.
Step 4: Coat in bird seeds
- Once the cone is coated with nut butter, dip the pinecone cone in a bowl or shallow dish of birdseeds.
- Roll and press the sides until the peanut butter is fully covered with seeds. Press larger seeds, nuts, and fruit pieces into the peanut butter to stick.
Step 5: Hang bird feeder
- Hang the pinecone bird feeder in a cool, shaded location safe from predators. Tie the string to branches in trees or bushes.
Tips and tricks
- Work on paper towels or paper plates to reduce the mess. Coating the pinecones with peanut butter can get messy, especially when you’re working with young children. Working on paper towels helps to catch dripping peanut butter and stray birdseeds.
- Adjust how much peanut butter you add. You can slather the whole pinecone in peanut butter to have seeds all over. But if you want the pinecone to be visible (like the ones you see in the photos), apply the nut butter just to the scales.
- Soften the peanut butter in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too thick to spread.
- Shred sunflower seeds in a food processor to make them smaller. Sunflower seeds are one of the best bird foods, but they can be too large to adhere to the pinecones. Chopped seeds stick better on the peanut butter.
- Make it social. Creating a pinecone peanut butter bird feeder is a great craft to make with a group of people. It’s an excellent classroom activity for kids of all ages and can also be done with seniors. If making it with a crowd, be sure you have enough pinecones and supplies for everyone.
Where to hang pinecone peanut butter bird feeder
To hang your homemade bird feeders, find a location that is safe from predators and where you can see it.
Place your feeder close to natural shelters like trees or shrubs so birds can rest between feeding bouts and refuge when a hawk flies by.
Read this article on safe feeder placement from Project Bird Watch for more tips.
Pine cone bird feeder without peanut butter
Peanut butter isn’t the only option you have for this bird food recipe. For pinecone bird feeders without peanut butter, try one of the following options:
- Vegetable shortening like Crisco
- Sunflower seed butter
- Coconut oil
- Soy butter
- Other nut butters like almond or hazelnut
Are pinecones safe for birds?
Yes, untreated, natural pine cones are safe for birds. In fact, pinecones are on the menu for some birds, such as chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, and nuthatches.
Is peanut butter good for birds?
Yes, peanut butter is good food for wild birds. Peanut butter’s high protein and fat content is very nourishing and provides essential nutrients to your feathered friends.
Birds can eat the same types we humans do, but natural or organic low-salt peanut butter with few additives is best. Avoid sugar-free or low-fat peanut butter as they lack the nutrition birds need.
What birds like peanut butter?
Blue jays, woodpeckers, warblers, Northern flickers, chickadees, and nuthatches love peanut butter.
You may also see cardinals, finches, titmice, crossbills, grosbeaks, and the occasional squirrel helping themselves in your garden.
If woodpeckers live in your area, smear peanut butter directly onto tree trunks as they prefer to eat straight from the bark.
Storage and shelf life
Store your pinecone bird feeder in a dry, cool location away from direct sunlight and any heat sources. Heat can melt the peanut butter.
Keep the cone feeder airtight and protected from moisture, so mold doesn’t grow. I keep mine in Tupperware or glass food containers lined with paper towels.
If stored dry and cold, bird cones should keep well for 1 month.
Pinecone feeders can also be frozen for up to 3 months. You don’t have to thaw frozen birdfeeders, just hang them outside, and they will thaw by themselves.