There’s not much time left to plan for Mother’s Day, but what most moms really want is your time, not your money! Here are some ways to spend time with a mom this weekend while indulging her interests.
- Offer to spend an hour or two giving her birdfeeders and birdbaths a thorough cleaning. Clean feeders mean healthy birds, but it can be a pain to get into all the nooks and crannies and get them really clean. Get cleaning tips from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology here.
- Grab some binoculars and take her for a birding walk through a local park or botanical garden. Many places have barrier-free nature trails, so even moms with mobility issues can enjoy the fun. Try this site to find birding hotspots in your area.
- If you’re more comfortable with technology than your mom, help her learn to use internet birding sites or smartphone apps so she can identify the birds she sees. Some of our favorite sites include All About Birds and WhatBird.com.
- Every gardener would love some help in their garden. Give your mom an hour or two with your hands in the dirt, accomplishing springtime chores. Build a raised bed, plant spring annuals, sow seeds for a vegetable garden, or just pull weeds – your mom will be grateful!
- Visit a local botanical garden together to see gorgeous blooms. Many of these are free or have minimal entrance fees. Find a fairly comprehensive list of gardens and arboretums here.
- Love photography? Get out in your mom’s garden and capture amazing shots of her springtime blooms. Download them to your mom’s computer and set them up as her wallpaper or screen saver.
How will you let your mom know your love her this weekend? Share with us in the comments!
A few years ago, a new style of feeder started appearing in wild bird supply stores and catalogs. It’s basically a wire spring bent into a wreath shape, which you fill with peanuts for birds and squirrels. Around the same time, I started seeing lots of people pinning it their Pinterest boards, saying things like “Make this feeder with a Slinky and a wire hanger – so easy!” But when I looked around on the web to see if anyone had actually attempted this craft, the only examples I could find all looked very, well… inexpertly homemade. I wanted to see if it was possible to create this feeder inexpensively but attractively. And the good news is that it definitely is!
What You Need:
- Regular-sized metal Slinky (I got mine for $3 in the bargain bins at Target)
- 12″ metal macrame ring (Available at your local craft store for about $2)
- 1″ loose-leaf ring (available at office supply stores, about 50 cents)
- Fishing line
- Bolt Cutters
What To Do:
- There are two ways you can start. I believe the feeder is easier to fill later on if you begin by cutting the macrame ring open in one place. To do this, you’ll definitely need bolt cutters, since the ring is very sturdy. If you can’t cut the ring, or don’t want to, skip this step.
- If you cut the macrame ring open, slide the Slinky around it now. If you chose not to cut the ring, you’ll have to twist the Slinky onto the ring a loop at a time, starting at one end.
- Pull the Slinky around the ring and hold it closed temporarily with a twist-tie or piece of wire (see top right photo).
- In order to make the feeder look neat and attractive, you’ll need to attach the Slinky to the ring about every fifth loop or so. Do this by tying the Slinky very firmly with fishing line to the metal ring and trimming the excess. Continue to do this all the way around the Slinky and ring, including the first and last loops.
- Hold the ring up and see if the Slinky “droops” at all. If so, tie that section to the ring. If not, you’re all set!
- If you cut the macrame ring open, you’ll now need to hold it closed once it’s filled. Use the 1″ loose-leaf ring by looping it around two or three rings on each side (see lower right photo above).
Fill the feeder with peanuts (in the shell) through the openings at the top, and hang outside for the birds (blue jays are very fond of peanuts) or squirrels. Once my local squirrel found it, he spent the rest of the day emptying the feeder of peanuts one-by-one – and leaving my sunflower feeder alone!
Have you attempted to create this kind of feeder by another method, or do you have one of these peanut wreath feeders already? Do you have any tips for others? Drop by the comments and tell us about it!
Here’s a last-minute DIY project for hummingbird lovers you can do this weekend. Though parts of the country are blanketed in snow and ice, some folks are still lucky enough to enjoy hummingbirds throughout the holiday season. If you have one of those people on your gift list this year, grab your glue gun and make this mini Christmas-themed hummingbird feeder!
What You Need:
What To Do:
- Carefully pull off the small white plastic flower on the feeding port. Set the rest of the feeder aside for now.
- Trim the petals from a poinsettia flower as shown. Cut off any “stem” so you have flat ends.
- On the back side of the white flower, apply hot glue and attach the poinsettia petals.
- The petals should be face-down, so the front sides will show when the flower is reattached.
- Be careful with the glue so you won’t obstruct the feeding port of the feeder when the white flower is reattached.
- Use as many petals as you need to create the fullness of flower you prefer.
- Set aside the white flower with poinsettia petals attached to cool completely. Cut a length of ribbon and tie it through the loop at the top of feeder itself.
- Apply hot glue to the top of the feeder and glue five or six small poinsettia flowers in place.
- Push the white plastic flower with poinsettia petals attached back onto the feeding port. Trim any glue that may be in the way with small scissors.
- Tip: Let your recipient know that the white plastic flower with petals attached can be removed before they clean the feeder.
Now, this is certainly not the most practical of hummingbird feeders, but for those who have these gorgeous visitors during the holiday season, it can be a nice addition to festive decor. Happy Gifting!
With Thanksgiving turkey behind us, it’s time to get ready for the December holidays! Today’s wreath idea is simple and classic – a different twist on the popcorn and cranberry strings once so popular for decorating Christmas trees.
What You Need:
- Wire wreath form (I used an 8″ form. You can get these at craft stores.)
- Fishing line or stout thread
- Long needle with a fairly small eye
- Floral wire (optional)
- 1 package cranberries
- About 4 cups popped popcorn
Author’s Note: I had several readers who commented they were concerned about the use of fishing line in this project. I actually chose it over thread because it is very strong and much less likely to break or come loose and get tangled in bird bills or feet. Fishing line usually causes problems when it is loose and a bird becomes tangled in it, such as when a fisher discards a broken line along the shore instead of in the trash. Fishing line is actually pretty hard to break, and if tightly tied around the wreath is unlikely to cause problems for the birds. However, if you are concerned about using fishing line, use strong thread instead.
What to Do:
- I found it was easiest to work in shorter sections around the form. Cut a three-foot length of fishing line and knot it to the wire wreath form. Thread the needle and begin stringing the popcorn and cranberries. I used three popcorn kernels, then one cranberry, and so on.
- Once you have about a foot of popcorn and cranberry strung, carefully wrap it around the wreath form. Continue stringing and wrapping until you reach the end of the line. Tie it off firmly to the wreath form.
- Repeat steps one and two until you have covered the wire form.
- If you like, you can use any leftover cranberries to create a “bow” at the top. Cut a length of floral wire about 3 feet long. String it with cranberries, twist into a bow shape, and attach with additional wire at the top of the wreath.
- Use floral wire to add a hanging loop to the top of the wreath, and hang it out for wildlife to enjoy!
What other ideas do you have for decorating your yard while also providing a banquet for birds? Share with us in the comments!
Fall and winter seem to be wreath season. Although they can be hung any time of year, wreaths are certainly most popular when the temperatures start to drop and holidays start to pop up on the horizon. This fall and winter, I’ll be experimenting with different garden and bird themed wreaths, and sharing my results and ideas here for you to try out too. First up, a mini-wreath garland for the birds:
What You’ll Need:
- Miniature grapevine wreaths (I got mine in the dollar bins at Target for 50 cents each)
- Twine (about 10 feet)
- Green floral wire
- Scissors and/or wire snips
- Fresh berries from shrubs in your garden – I used:
- Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine)
- American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
- Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Dewdrop (Duranta erecta)
- A quick note – when choosing berries, avoid those from plants that might be invasive in your area; no need to help the birds spread the seeds far and wide. Both my camphor tree and my lantana camara were covered in berries, but since they’re invasive in Florida, I avoided using them for this project. Don’t have berries in your yard? Try these ten favorites from Birds & Blooms.
What to Do:
- Strip all the foliage from the stems holding the berries, since it will wilt quickly. You can make exceptions for holly leaves if you like, which should hold up longer.
- Lay out your berries on the wreaths until you find an arrangement you like. I found it easier to use snip the stems into short pieces rather than trying to bend them around the wreath.
- Use floral wire to attach the berries on their stems to the wreaths.
- Wrap the twine twice through the top of each wreath, spacing about a foot apart.
- Tie loops on either end of the twine for hanging, and place outside for the birds to find!
The nice thing about this project is that once the birds eat all the berries, you can “re-fill” the wreaths, or re-purpose them for another project. Berry-eating birds to watch for include Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbirds, Gray Catbirds, American Robins, and Bluebirds. What berry-eating birds visit your yard, and what shrubs do you plant to attract them? Tell us in the comments below!