Archive for February, 2010

Engaging People Through Wildlife

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

February 11, 2010

Here in Kennett Square, we’ve been digging out from the second snowstorm this week. While snow is great fun for kids (and the kids in adults), it’s also fun for pets. My son and I brought in a big pot of snow and made small snowballs for our new kitten. She would put her paws into the pot and quickly leap backwards. Was it too cold? If it was, it didn’t stop her from putting her paws back into it to swat at the stack of snowballs. We put the pot in the bathtub where it melted into water for houseplants…and maybe, some kitten drinking water.

Take a walk. Don’t wait to dig out a path. Put on your tallest boots and go out to look at the world. Can you see any animal footprints? Why or why not? Where did the animals go? Where are they hiding? This is a good thing to check out with children – and help build shelters for small animals for times like this. Matthew and I walked around, looking for signs of life in the snow. We found freshly-opened yellow blossoms of the Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis x ‘Arnold Promise’) and winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum).

Break out the food. The snow last night covered most of the fruits and berries that were still not eaten by wildlife. This time of year, the winter freezes finally “cure” winterberries so they are sufficiently palatable to birds. In previous winters, cedar waxwings and robins were munching on winterberries and hawthorns. This week, however, snowplows have covered over every bit of winterberry and the snow is still clinging to the hawthorns.

When the food we’ve planted for wildlife goes scarce, it’s time to break out the bird feeders. Consider breaking out the cinnamon-scented pinecones you bought from last Christmas and stuffing these with peanut butter and birdseed. You can also stuff the peanut butter – birdseed mix into the mesh bags that carry clementines and onions if you can’t find pinecones. Hang them in trees or from the porch roof where you can look out a window and watch the birds feeding. What an antidote to cabin fever!

Pine Cone Birdfeeder Recipe*

What you’ll need:

  • Pine cone
  • Paper plate
  • Knife
  • Smooth peanut butter (don’t used reduced fat – the birds need the fat in winter)
  • Birdseed
  • Ribbon or yarn
  • Scissors

How to make it:

  1. Cut a long length of yarn or ribbon to hang the bird feeder.
  2. Tie the ribbon in a knot around the pine cone near the top (about 3 sections down).
  3. Tie a knot in the end of the ribbon.
  4. Use the knife to get a large clump of peanut butter on the paper plate.
  5. Use the knife to spread peanut butter inside the pine cone and around the edges.
  6. Sprinkle the birdseed over the pine cone.
  7. Roll the pine cone in the birdseed that is on the plate.
  8. Hang the bird feeder on the tree.
  9. Enjoy watching the birds eat their treat!

(*Recipe adapted from