For the birds

We like birds around here. We have quite a few in the house, and we take great pleasure in watching for the wide variety of feathered friends who stop by our feeders for a visit. It isn’t unusual to see a half dozen species nearby at any given moment.

One of our favourite bird families is the humble chickadee. We like them because they are so adorably cute. We like them because they sing such a lovely little song. But most of all, we like them because we feel that they have become our own personal adopted bird family.

Last year, K built his sister a bird house and the very same day that we hung it in the tree in the backyard, the chickadees moved in.

This year, he is building another one.

It is from a kit we bought at either Lowe’s or Home Depot, I don’t remember which. It comes with all the pieces you need, and a packet of frustratingly tiny nails. All you need to supply is one eager young boy or girl, a hammer, and some glue. Paint, too, if you want. What I like best about it is that these kits are simple enough to do with a child of 3 or 4, and scale nicely so that a 10 or 12 year old could build it completely on their own as K is doing today.

So what did B do while K hammered away? Why, she built bird feeders, of course, and so did her cousin who is staying with us for a few days.

Do you remember the wreaths we made at Christmas from the red dogwood branches cut from the front garden? Today, we turned them into a sort of suet ball thing to hang from the trees outdoors.

First, we smeared them with a mixture of peanut butter and shortening.

It doesn’t take a lot, just enough to make the branches somewhat gooey. Essentially, the peanut butter mixture is a sort of edible glue. We just used butter knives to get it on there, but you could also do it with a spoon. Our niece, at 4 years old, is using a child-sized butter knife so that she can be just like the big kids. I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that the way to give a child a chance to succeed is to scale down the tools you give them to a size that works for their smaller hands.

Once the peanut butter has been thoroughly smeared around the wreaths, the table, your hands, and maybe your shirt too, just for good measure, dip them in a shallow bowl of bird seed. If you press them rather firmly, the seed will stick quite solidly.

The final step is to add a string and hang them from the trees.

Bon appetit, little chickadees!

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