One of our favourite autumn and Halloween activities for kids is making this adorable pumpkin bird feeder. They are really easy to make, look amazing hanging from the trees, and, as they are made from all natural materials, are great for the wildlife in more ways than one.
Want to make some with your kids? Read on to find out how.
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Not got much time or just want the bullet points on how to make these? Then click here for the Quick Read Instructions.
Feeding the wildlife
Hanging up a pumpkin bird feeder has many benefits for our wildlife, and are a great way to get kids thinking about things such as how changing seasons affect food supplies. Once they are hung up and attracting visitors, bird feeders offer wonderful opportunities to observe birds too.
There are all sorts of ways to do make bird feeders, and one of our favourites come autumn is to make bird feeders out of miniature pumpkins and squash.
Mini Pumpkin bird feeders
Mini pumpkins come in all shapes, colours, and sizes, and are ready-filled with delicious food for the birds. So turning them into bird feeding stations is quick and easy, and as all the elements (bar the string) are natural, they have minimal impact on the environment too.
- Mini pumpkins
- A tool for making holes with.
- Extra bird feed (optional)
To make your pumpkin bird feeder, start by cutting off the top of the pumpkin. This should reveal the seeds inside.
While birds will eat raw seeds, it’s best to hollow out the pumpkin and remove them, to dry them in the oven for fifteen minutes or so. You can refill your pumpkin bird feeder with the dried seeds later (if the kids haven’t eaten them, that is).
Make some holes for perches
Next, take a sharp skewer, screwdriver or hand drill (my kids love using this child-sized one), and make a hole right through your pumpkin. It should be about 2cm/1 inch down from the top.
Make sure your tool comes right out the other side, so you have two holes opposite each other, as you are going to poke a stick all the way through and out both sides.
Make two more holes (ie in one side, out the other) JUST BELOW the first ones, and at a right angle to them. This is for a second stick, and you need these holes to be lower down so that the two sticks don’t hit in the middle of the pumpkin.
Extra feeding holes
We also made large holes in two sides of the pumpkin so that the birds could access seeds and pumpkin flesh towards the bottom. You could leave this though, especially if your bird food mix is dry and liable to just fall straight out.
You can see in the picture below that we decorated two sides of this pumpkin bird feeder with a carving of a wiggly worm. We hung up the feeder as part of an animal pumpkin trail I made for local kids, so these pumpkins had to be decorated too!
Put a stick in it…
Take a stick that is at least twice as long as your pumpkin is wide, and poke it through two of your top holes, so that there is at least 7cm/3 inches sticking out of either side. This makes a perch for your bird guests.
Repeat with the remaining two holes, to make perches at right angles to the first stick.
String it up
Tie string to the ends of the sticks (you may want to drill / pierce a small hole for this) and knot together. Be sure to make the knot high enough up that the string doesn’t obstruct your perches.
Take the opportunity to add extra bird food at this point, if your seeds are on the sparse side.
Hang your pumpkin bird feeder up where the birds can get to it, but out of reach of cats… Step back, and wait for diners to arrive!
Pumpkin-tastic Bird Feeder
These pumpkin bird feeders look fantastic hanging in the trees. But when the pumpkin starts to rot, it’s time to take it down. As with any bird feeder, it’s important to make sure they are clean (and not rotting or covered in mould!) so that it doesn’t inadvertently make the birds sick.
But rather than waste it at this point, make use of your old pumpkin by adding it to the compost heap. Alternatively, if you chop it up and bury it in the garden (about 20cm down), it will provide food for creepy crawlies, who will break it down to add lots of lovely nutrients to your soil.
Either way, remember to remove the string first. This does need to go in the bin because it can be a hazard to wildlife. And bear in mind that if you leave any seeds in there, there’s every chance you’ll have little pumpkin plants sprouting up come spring!
Animal pumpkins for kids
Now I love a scary Halloween, but when my children were very small they found it could be a little too scary. So when I made a pumpkin trail for the local kids, I made sure to keep things gentle with a menagerie of friendly animal pumpkins.
More from Rhubarb and Wren
Looking for more fun things to make and do with the kids? Check out these great activities from Rhubarb and Wren!
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How to make a mini pumpkin bird feeder
For when you just want to get right to the point…
● Munchkin pumpkins
● A tool for making holes with.
● Extra bird feed (optional)
1. Cut off the top of your pumpkin, hollow out and remove the seeds. Dry them in the oven for fifteen minutes. You can refill the pumpkin with them once your feeder is finished.
2. Make a hole right through your pumpkin, about 2cm/1 inch down from the top, so you have two holes opposite each other.
3. Do the same thing at a right angle to your first hole, BUT SLIGHTLY BELOW IT, so you now how four holes in total.
4. Take a stick and poke it through two of the holes, with at least 7cm/3 inches sticking out of either side, to make a perch.
6. Repeat with the remaining two holes.
7. Tie string to the ends of the sticks and knot together.
8. Refill your pumpkin with the dried seeds and any other bird feed you want to add.
9. Hang your pumpkin up where the birds can get to it, but out of reach of cats… Step back, and wait for diners to arrive!
How long can you leave it up?
When the pumpkin starts to rot, it’s time to take it down.