Here is how to make a snowman bird feeder in your own backyard. This is a fun winter idea for your homeschool nature study.
Happy birds! We had large numbers of birds visit our yard during our snow days earlier this week. We had feeders filled with seeds and suet for them to enjoy. This time we had a special treat for them….a snowman bird feeder!
Winter Fun: How To Make a Snowman Bird Feeder
We created a small snowman on our deck and made eyes out of sunflower seeds and then filled the top of his head with a handful of sunflower seeds. I saw this idea on Pinterest and have been itching to try it. It took a little while for the birds to find the seeds but once they did it didn’t last for long.
They ate the eyes and all!
The second day I refilled the spot on the snowman’s head and they came back again.
It was a simple and fun way to observe birds from our window. The birds didn’t care if our snowman bird feeder wasn’t all that pretty.
I highly recommend trying this if you have snow in your yard. Snap a few photos and send one to me!
Join us for our Winter Wednesday homeschool nature studies!
More Winter Homeschool Nature Study Resources
Here are even more winter nature studies for you to enjoy together:
Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having the opportunity to have nature come to you in your very own backyard. Involve your whole family in the project and spend some time outdoors!
When we first moved into our house over twenty years ago, the backyard was fairly generic. It had a big weedy lawn, a pine tree, a few fruit trees, blackberries along the fence, and some bushes in the back. The front yard had a magnolia tree and some lawn. Not really very inviting to either humans or animals. It was not a very big yard either and we did not have a lot of money to do big landscape projects at that time.
We didn’t set out to create a natural habitat for wildlife in our yard, but it has turned out that way with some simple ideas in mind. Working on one small area at a time we managed to eventually build up what we have now.
How to Get Started Making Your Backyard a Natural Habitat for Wildlife
Animals and Birds need some basic things in order to consider your backyard an attractive habitat.
Somewhere to have their young
Food Sources for Your Backyard
Here are some ideas for food sources for wildlife:
Wild sources of food in your backyard like blackberries and grasses that produce seeds.
You can plant a variety of things to help provide food as well.
We have a fig tree, a walnut tree, sunflowers every summer, and flowers whose nectar is attractive to birds and insects like trumpet vine and butterfly bush.
A trumpet vine is a favorite of the hummingbirds when it is in bloom. There will three or four all sipping nectar on various sides of the trellis and they are amazing to watch. We also have several types of bird feeders in our yard at varying levels.
Platform feeders, hopper feeders, hummingbird feeders, and special finch feeders are filled all year round. We have a suet feeder that we add in the winter.
We also have a butterfly/hummingbird garden established with quite a few plants that are attractive to various kinds of butterflies.
We have seen Tiger swallowtails already this year and we are hoping to start attracting some Monarchs with the milkweed that we have started in a patch near the back of the garden.
We also know that a variety of mammals eat the seed under the feeders. We have seen skunks, voles, and moles. We have seen evidence of other rodents but can’t be sure exactly what else is out there at night.
Water Sources for Your Backyard Nature Study
A water source is essential in attracting wildlife to your backyard natural habitat.
We have two bird baths that are available for the birds year round. We also have noticed the birds perched on the potted plants getting water from the base. The birds also enjoy the rainbird sprinklers when they are on and we frequently see blackbirds shaking around in the spray.
We have seen little raccoon footprints around the bird bath as well. We know we have at least one raccoon because we have seen him up on our deck at night looking in the back window. Too cute.
Shelter for Wildlife
Here are some ideas for shelter for wildlife in your backyard natural habitat:
We have not been successful with having birds nest in our birdhouse, but we have had several birds over the years make nests in our magnolia and sequoia trees.
There are also birds that nest in the eave of our neighbors garage right along the fence line. They fly in and out and use our feeders. Believe it or not, the birds fly into the space under the beam. If you click the photo you can see where they go in and out.
We have three large areas where we have shrubs for the birds to hide in. These photinia bushes behind the garden provide a great spot for the finches and little birds to perch as they wait their turn at the feeders.
These areas are near the feeders and the bird baths and the birds seem to like having the option to fly into the shrub and then check the feeder out before perching to eat a meal. The bushes come alive in the winter when the weather is wet because so many birds take shelter there out of the weather.
The back oak tree has bats from time to time and if we come out at night we can see them flying around the backyard eating insects midair.
We have a section of our yard that has big river rocks and this is where you will find a variety of insects living underneath and also a shelter for the reptiles in our yard. Yes, we have a couple types of lizards and other reptiles in our yard and the boys love it.
The grape vines which we planted last year are providing another spot for the birds to perch plus the added bonus of some seedless grapes for us at the end of the season.
Another great place that we know we have provided shelter is within our compost pile. This really could go under the category of food as well since we know that birds and other small creatures forage in the compost for meals.
Natural Habitat: Provide a Place to Raise Young
The trees in our yard are a great place for birds to raise their babies. We just had “flying school” for the Scrub jays in our yard for the babies. They have all flown out on their own now and it was fun to watch. The hummingbirds are all up in a pine tree and a cedar tree that borders the back of our property and although we have never seen them, we know they nest and raise babies there.
We do have our limits thought….the six foot fence all the way around was in response to the mule deer that would come in and devastate a whole vegetable garden in one night. We knew we would be forcing them to go elsewhere for a meal but we live fairly close to a riparian habitat that they can graze and get water from. They still make themselves at home in our unfenced front yard and I hear them on hot summer nights snacking on my roses. I guess they must be hungry. The photo above shows where on the side of the house outside the fenced in area, the deer are still taking shelter here and sleeping. You can see where the grasses and plants are all flattened down from where they lay down and rest.
Last year we had a family of skunks move in under the back deck. I had the boys fill up the crevice with rocks as soon as they moved out. As much as I love wildlife, having a skunk family that near to our house was not pleasant…you can only imagine.
So there are some ideas to get you started with your backyard natural habitat. Take it one section and one idea at a time and soon you will have your own nature study laboratory right outside your back door. It has taken us over twenty years to build up the different aspects but it has been a labor of love. We are continually adding little things to help make the backyard beautiful and also attractive to birds and other animals.
You might be interested in what the National Wildlife Federation says about building a backyard natural habitat. Create A Wildlife Habitat
Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support
You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!
Here you will find all sorts of ideas for attracting birds to your yard for homeschool nature study and birdwatching. We love to watch birds and do so on a regular basis without ever leaving our backyard. We can watch from our window or our deck and see usually around 4-5 different kinds of birds each day. At sometimes of the year, we have a lot more than that and it is exciting to see a new kind in the feeders.
Birdwatching 101 Attracting Birds to Your Yard
Here are some ideas for attracting birds to your yard.
Homeschool Nature Study with a Variety of Bird Feeders
Try a variety of bird feeders. We made most of ours from scraps around the house and my boys love to hammer a nail and saw boards so this is a great project with a little supervision.
We have some that are called platform feeders. The birds actually land on the feeder and eat from the seed in the tray. We have scrub jays (blue jays), tit mouses, towhees, dark eyed juncos, and house sparrows in these feeders.
The second kind of feeders are the hopper kind of feeders where the bird lands on the perches and eat from holes in the sides of the feeders. Birds like house finches, goldfinches, and house sparrows like these types of feeders.
Attracting Birds with a Homeschool Nature Garden
Now for the more “natural” way to attract birds to your yard with a garden. We have chosen some plants for our garden area that seem to attract birds…especially hummingbirds. We planted butterfly bushes and trumpet vines on our arbor to attract butterflies but they seem to attract more hummingbirds. I am not complaining because they are beautiful and I say the more the merrier.
We have several varieties of sunflowers in our garden. Both planted with seed and those that came up from our feeder spillage. The yellow finches seem to like to eat the whole leaf of the the sunflower leaving just a little skeleton for us to look at.
We also have a fig tree in our yard and the scrub jays love to sit and peck at the fruit for an evening meal. They make a big mess but I’m glad someone is eating the figs. So hopefully that gives you at least an idea of how to attract some birds to your own yard so that you can enjoy birdwatching from your window or backyard.
You may also be interested in visiting my page on feeding birds in winter….which would also apply at other times of the year as well: How To Feed Birds
Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support
You will find a continuing series on bird nature study, bird watching and attracting birds plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges for nature study in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the start of Feederwatch season here in my new habitat of Central Oregon. Our new yard has been a challenge of sorts for hanging bird feeders because of the other critters that have decided to partake of the seeds and suet. It was a mystery to me how I could fill up my rather large feeder late in the afternoon and then awake in the morning to a completely empty feeder! I didn’t realize how fast the deer could drain the feeder.
Then there are the squirrels that just help themselves.
My husband came to my rescue by fabricating rather tall poles for the feeders to hang on and so far this has solved my problems!
So what is our setup?
I have three different feeding stations, one in the front yard and two in the backyard.
The front yard feeder seems to attract the little birds like chickadees and nuthatches. I read somewhere that when the temperatures drop the birds like a suet feeder, so I added that when I took down our hummingbird feeder. There is still a bird bath but I’m not sure how I’m going to keep it from freezing. I saw at the Wild Bird store you can buy a little heater so if it’s within my budget, I will get one the next time I’m there.
Closer to the house in the backyard, I’ve hung a new suet feeder and a new cylinder seed feeder. I haven’t observed many birds at the new style of feeder so I’m wondering about location. We may move the feeder back to the fence line closer to the trees if we don’t start to see the bird traffic to the feeder increase.
This is where all the action happens! We see lots of birds at this feeding station, both at the feeders and under the feeders. I have mostly black sunflower seeds in the hopper feeder and I rotate the variety of suet I use in the suet feeder.
Here are our Project Feederwatch results from our first count:
Scrub Jay -2
Mourning dove -3
Varied thrush -2
Red breasted nuthatch -2
Hairy woodpecker -1
Spotted towhee – 1
House finches – 6
Pine Siskin -1
In addition, we heard and then observed a Red-tail hawk in one of the pines in back of the house and two ravens flying overhead. They don’t officially make the Project Feederwatch list since they were not in the feeder, but I made a note of their appearances in my records.
I will be posting monthly Project Feederwatch data as the season continues.
I am fascinated by birds that migrate. It makes me feel an awe for such creatures and the way they travel up to thousands of miles as the seasons change. When I lived in California, I was aware of birds and the way they would come and go at my feeders season by season. I could anticipate their arrival and then have a fairly good idea of who would be leaving at the turn of the weather. Project Feederwatch each year made me keenly aware that the birds at my feeders were not the same year round.
I am getting ready to participate in my first year of Project Feederwatch here in my new home. I have updated my account and created a new description of the feeders and their locations and types. Watching birds is an everyday affair here from my kitchen and family room windows so Project Feederwatchis a perfect match for our lifestyle. I enjoy participating in a citizen science project that helps gather data for those involved in various bird science projects and studies. Plus, it is something that refreshes me and brings a lot of joy to my life. It is something that I can participate in that doesn’t take a huge commitment of time and I can do it right from my own home, even if I am wearing my pajamas.
This is our first autumn and winter here in our new home so we are still experimenting with various feeder types and the placement within the yard. I had an idea to add a brush pile just outside our back fence after we trimmed some tree limbs. So far I have observed birds and squirrels investigating the jumble of limbs with their needles and cones still intact. It isn’t too far from my cluster of feeders so it will provide some shelter for birds once the snow arrives.
I started right after we moved in creating a list of bird visitors to our yard. I will be keeping that habit going right on through the next few seasons. This should give us a pretty good idea of the migrant visitors as they pass through or stay for awhile. This is a simple way to get your family started with a more in-depth bird study and I encourage you to keep track of the birds that come to your feeders.
We recently had the experience of hearing and then seeing a group of sandhill cranes fly over our yard. It was about sunset when my son and I were out doing yardwork. I heard in the distance what at first I thought were geese coming overhead. But, it was a strange and unfamiliar sound and not geese at all. (Click over to AllAboutBirds to hear what it sounded like.) My son spoke up when he realized it was the sound of sandhill cranes. He had heard them before when we lived in California and immediately recognized the rattling loud commotion of a group of cranes flying south over our house. It was exciting to experience this for the first time and I have since done some research into the migration habits of the sandhill crane. Knowing how far they fly has given me such an awe for these large birds. I just created a page in my nature journal with this information and I will share the page next week in an entry.
The opportunity to study birds can present itself when you least expect it…look for those opportunities!
Make sure to learn about the Feederwatch program and decide if it is a good fit for your family!
There is a wealth of birding information on the internet but I have not found a more homeschool-friendly site than the ones sponsored by Cornell University. I would love to encourage you all to subscribe to their homeschool blog (click the logo above to pop over there now).
There is so much to relate that I am splitting my entry into three parts!
Picture postcard perfect! That pretty much sums up July in Central Oregon…at least that has been my experience. Longtime residents here say that July and August are the short summer season so we have tried to soak in as much outdoor time as we can before it passes.
I can’t help but compare living here to my California home. It doesn’t get as hot in the afternoons and it’s MUCH cooler at night. My new house is perfectly situated to view the sunrise each morning because there is a large pasture sloping down to the river. This makes a perfect vantage point to watch the sunrise each morning up over the distant mountains and peaks.
Each new day I wake up to open the blinds to see the colors and clouds….the Grand Creator’s morning artwork. Many times I try to take a photo, but each time I am disappointed in the results. My iPhone camera just doesn’t capture the magnificence I see with my eye so most days I am content with enjoying it in the moment.
The wildlife show starts early around here. I don’t even need to get out of bed because the view from my bedroom window allows me to see a great sweep of landscape behind our home.
The arrival of the black cattle to the pasture down by the river was on July 8th. I woke up one morning and there were, not exaggerating, two dozen cows who appeared overnight right behind my back fence. There are some pine trees and tall grass that they seem to enjoy both in the early morning and then later in the day. Seriously, they have 108 acres back there and many times they are right at my back door, looking at us with big, wide cow eyes. Their curiosity was at first with our big black Labrador dog and then the Woody wind twirly. They stand and watch the wheels go round. So very funny!
I have come to love the sound of a distant cow moo and the sight of adorable young calves that follow their mothers around the pasture. I will not think about the time they’ll be absent from my back pasture and what that will mean for them. For now, they are a welcome addition to my animal viewing.
Summer so far has brought a different set of birds to the feeders and surroundings. Many of the birds that were here in May and June have moved on and they have been replaced by some new birds. I’m still working on learning all their names but there is such joy in the discovery.
My new friends here have realized I’m a bird nerd, sort of an oddity. What they see as common, I many times get super excited about seeing. I’m spending a lot of time filling feeders and birdbaths. The more plentiful the food and water, the more birds come to visit. I have a hanging pot of flowers outside my bedroom window and the hummingbirds come a visiting each morning.
Sometimes one and many times two hummingbirds are busy sipping nectar from the colorful flowers in the pot. We had a switch in hummingbird species early in July, from rufous hummingbirds to calliope hummingbirds. The gorgeous rufous colored birds are all gone, migrating further north I’m suspecting. This is something I want to research further because it fascinates me that they can fly so far over a wide migration route.
I’m keeping lots of notes and taking lots of photos to help me start to learn the patterns of flora and fauna here in Central Oregon. I purchased a new field guide that is more specific to this area to help me know what things to expect and to look for as I’m outdoors exploring. Summer is a time for being outside and I’m really taking that to heart.
I’m going to split this really long entry into three parts so you’re not overwhelmed with reading it all in one sitting.
Look for Part 2 – Wildlife Viewings
Look for Part 3 – Travels
How Do You Join?
Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.
During our outdoor time this week we went….
The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
This is the time of year that the rewards of creating a wildlife habitat are coming clear as the insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals visit our yard each day. There seems to be someone enjoying the space at all times. I hear buzzing and chirping during the day and see signs that someone has come to drink water and dig around in the leaves at night. I even have seen where some deer have been sleeping around on the side of our house. My husband saw a fox one evening and I heard an owl in our tree.
The yard is so alive and full of surprises each day.
I highly recommend the creating of a wildlife habitat that fits your local area’s wild residents.
Once you certify your garden online, you can order a flag or sign to proudly display in your yard. I ordered the classic sign and we mounted it near our front walkway. Here are all the signs available: National Wildlife Federation Sign Shop.
Would you like a free printable plan for creating your own Wildlife Habitat? I created one for you to use as you access your yard for the four elements you will need to become certified.
Here is another entry that shows the transformation of our front yard into a more wildlife friendly habitat: Frontyard Remodel. We have since added a mason bee house that you can read about in this post: Mason Bee House.Here is an entry that shows our frontyard in all four seasons: From My Window.
Now that summer is here, you may be spending more time in your yard or garden. Take a few minutes to observe any wildlife that visits! Use the printable above to make your wildlife habitat plan soon and then go over to the National Wildlife Federation website to get certified. Then, proudly display your sign and tell your neighbors about the program so they can participate too.
Have you thought about creating a wildlife habitat?
I am thoroughly enjoying my Project Feederwatch counting this year…we added a few new feeders that are closer to my viewing window and that makes counting super easy. Even watching our “ordinary” birds gives me such pleasure. Here are some images from my counting days of my fine feathered friends.
Loving our mockingbird and watching him visit every morning to a particular tree and then to a blackberry vine in the corner of our yard…always sitting at the top.
I caught this sparrow with his mouth full of seed. Love his feet too!
This is one of the woodpeckers that visit our feeders and trees just about every day now. They aren’t very big but they are beautiful birds.
Here is my list of birds that have come to visit during the months of November and December.
November and December Bird Lists
Western scrub jay
What birds did you see this month?
These are affiliate links to products I have used and love.
Don’t you love nasturtiums? They are such a happy flower and they remind me of my grandma. Her garden seemed to just sprout them in all the corners and I always have thought they were easy to grow and care for.
I have not had much success in growing my own nasturtiums. I have tried a few times and this year I received nasturtium seeds (Little Firebirds) from Renee’s Garden. I read the back of the package and it said they would be great in a container so I planted them in a fairly large pot on my back deck. My seeds quickly sprouted and the leaves that formed were so pretty and lily pad shaped just like the package said. But, over time, the leaves started to turn brown which I thought was from lack of water so I stepped up my watering.
Things grew worse instead of better and now all I have is a pot of crispy leaves, no flowers.
Not sure what happened there…over-watering?
The rest of the garden is going strong and I am reaping some rewards in the form of zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and basil.
The zucchini is Astia from Renee’s Garden and the seed package says it will grow compact plants and yield an abundance of tender zucchini. I have picked about eight zucchinis so far and I think my dog or some other critter has eaten a few too. I am really liking this variety but I left too many plants in my pot…..next year one plant per pot.
The tomatoes are Litt’l bites Cherry from Renee’s Garden. The package says that this plant is perfect from pots and baskets and I can tell you that I have had huge success with this veggie. The problem is that some critter comes at night and eats anything almost ripe. I have put up a cage and netting around it to protect the fruits for us to eat!
The basil is Italian Cameo from Renee’s Garden. I love, love, love this variety and it is easy to pick a bunch really fast. I harvest some every few days and it just fills right back in for the next time.
The peppers are growing every day in our hot summer afternoons. These are Baby Belle Peppers from Renee’s Garden. They are a mini snack or salad pepper which they say I can pick either green or wait for them to get red before harvesting. I think I will try doing it both ways and see which I like better. I am having success with the plants in a pot on my back deck.
So there is a short update on the garden in pots! I so enjoy getting out there every morning to survey the progress and water, trim, pick, and taste something. I have decided I don’t need a big garden to get that “garden fix” that I need in the summer. Lesson learned!
One last new thing on the deck…a second hummingbird feeder! I placed a new feeder along with some red plants to attract a few more hummers to my yard. They love both the red geranium and the red petunias….great tip for those of you trying to establish a new hummingbird feeder. Use the natural colors to get them interested in visiting your feeder and then they will become regulars.
Summer fills my days with gardening and bird watching….and cloud watching. We are still in our drought here in California and every time there are clouds we hope for rain but so far….nothing!
I have a subscription to Birds and Bloomsand in the June/July issue there was a full page advertisement for a product that caught my attention, Bird’s Eye View Window Film. This product was developed to help protect wild birds from flying into windows by making shiny clean windows more visible. I thought they looked beautiful with the geometric designs and a touch of color.
Let me tell you that I have had a problem with birds smacking into my front and back windows. I happen to have a lot of windows in my house…love the natural light. But, it does make for a lot of window strikes.
I received two packages of the Bird’s Eye view product to try and share a review with you. These are more like square window clings, they went up easily and have stayed adhered to the window. You can actually peel them off and reposition them if you need to with no problem. I am totally happy with that aspect.
The problem is that I have had numerous birds fly right into the very windows with the product on them. Have they reduced the number of birds colliding with my shiny windows? It is hard to say. I went back and reread the application instruction and realized it does say that there needs to be 2 6″ pieces or 4 4″ pieces near the center of the window about 4″ apart. I moved my pieces around but put them right over where I could see the feathers from the bird strike on the outside of the window. We are still hearing birds hit the window.
I am going to leave them up all summer and try to pay attention to see if we seem to have less collisions…partly because it seems proactive on my part and partly because they are pretty. And, I think I am actually going to get some more and see if placing more of the Bird’s Eye View product on my windows will help eliminate the bird strikes over time. I will keep you posted.
On this very day, a scrub jay hit my back door window and I found him dead on the back mat even though I have a decal on that particular door. It breaks my heart when this happens.