Besides bringing song and flashy color to the backyard, birds are tons of fun to watch. Give them something special in return by making up a quick batch of bird treat baskets.
Below is a sample recipe; feel free to vary the ingredients depending on what you have on hand. Instead of oranges for the baskets, you could use grapefruit. In place of peanut butter, you could use shortening or molasses for the sticky part of the filling. Instead of cornmeal or rolled oats, substitute breadcrumbs, croutons, graham crackers, or regular crackers or cereal. You can toss in a variety of other ingredients, too, such as dried or fresh fruit, nuts and seeds.
This simple project is a fun activity for kids and grownups to work on together. The youngsters can get their hands messy kneading the filling ingredients while an adult prepares the baskets. You can work together to fill the rinds and hang the finished baskets outside.
- 2 oranges
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup rolled oats or cornmeal
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
- 2 bowls
- small wooden skewer or nail
- 4 pieces light twine or heavy string, each 8 to 10 inches long
Prepare the Baskets
Use a sharp knife to cut the oranges in half. With a spoon, scoop out the fruit into a bowl, working carefully to avoid cutting through the rind. Don’t worry about getting out every bit of fruit; it’s fine if some sticks to the rind. Set the removed fruit aside for snacking or fruit salad.
On each of the four rinds, use a small wooden skewer or a nail to poke one hole in the rind, then make another directly opposite the first hole. Thread the end of one piece of string or twine through each hole (use the skewer or nail to help push it through the holes, if necessary) and tie it.
Mix the Filling
Place peanut butter in an empty bowl. Add 1 cup cornmeal or rolled oats and 1/4 cup raisins or sunflower seeds (if desired) and stir or knead them into the peanut butter. The resulting mixture should be slightly sticky. If it’s more crumbly than sticky, chop up a tablespoon or two of the fruit you removed in the previous step and work it into the mixture to add moisture.
Fill the Baskets
While holding the string or twine handle out of the way, pack some of the peanut butter mixture into each of the four rinds.
Hang the Baskets Outdoors
Carry the filled baskets outside and hang them from a shrub or tree for the birds to enjoy. Deciduous shrubs and trees with short, sturdy twigs are ideal; evergreen shoots may not be sturdy enough to support the weight of the baskets.