Last week I spotted some blue jays hanging out in my neighbor's trees.
Actually, my dog spotted them first.
Our dog Jack has a total hate-on for birds. Or maybe it's an immense love for them. I can't tell the difference. I don't know where it comes from - we obviously didn't encourage him to be bird-obsessed. But when he sees them, he gets all hyper, takes a flying run at them, and tries to catch them. If he's tied up and knows he can't get to them, he'll just stay at the end of his chain and bark at them. I've even seen him go so far as to climb trees to get to them.
So that's how I spotted the jays... I went out to scold Jack for bark-bark-barking, and noticed that there were three of them hanging out in the yard next door. I've had my lonely birdfeeder hanging off our house since we moved in last month without any success... I haven't even noticed any chickadees daring to get close (darn dog!). So I decided to move the feeder a little farther away. Still no success.
In the meantime, my 2 1/2 yr old Ruby was getting kind of bored and restless - the weather's been pretty crummy (lots of cold rain), so she wasn't getting outside to play much. We've only had two light dustings of snow so far (I know! What the heck!) that have both been washed away, and she is sooooo excited for the snow to come, yet wakes up each morning disappointed. So I needed to find something for us to do to keep her occupied.
I remember making these when I was in kindergarten long ago, and had stumbled across them again while blog-hopping back in early summer (you can find the original post here).
I figured this just might solve both of our problems - keeping a toddler busy, getting creative, and spreading a little bird love around our yard in hopes of enticing some new feathery customers.
1 envelope Knox Gelatin
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup mixed bird seed
Twine, ribbon, yarn, or other string of your choice
Heat up the water (on stovetop, microwave, kettle, or whatever your little heart desires). In a medium sized bowl, mix together the hot water and gelatin, stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Now add your birdseed, stirring until all of it has been coated. If you find there is still some liquid in the bottom of your bowl, add a little more seed at a time until there's no more liquid pooling.
We used an assortment of cookie cutters and mason jar lids for shaping the feeders. On your waxed paper, fill your mold halfway up with the birdseed mixture, then take a piece of string approximately 8" long and tie it into a loop.
Place the knot end of the mixture into the seeds, and then fill the mold up the rest of the way, sandwiching the string into the mixture. Press it quite firmly so it will take to the mold nicely.
Let them dry overnight, flipping them after a couple of hours so they dry evenly. When they are done, they should feel firm and not spongey. Pop those babies out of the molds, being careful not to break any pieces off, straighten out the strings, and hang!!
I actually made a double batch of the seed mixture, but found that close to the end of the batch the gelatin was already starting to firm up and the last few feeders I made didn't set up so well. If you're making them yourself it shouldn't be a problem, but working with a little one definitely slows things down. If you are working with a child, I recommend making single batches as you need them.
The double batch made up about a dozen birdfeeders for us, each about 1" thick and around 2" to 3" across.