Big Ideas & Family Challenges: Peanut Butter Pine Cone Bird Feeder

The birds are back and singing their little hearts out. How about making them a little treat so they’ll want to hang out in your yard. Watching and listening to birds is a great way to spend an afternoon, not to mention that you can learn about different species along the way!


  • pine cones
  • peanut butter (shortening or suet for households with nut allergies)
  • birdseed
  • string
  • scissors
  • butter knife or spatula
  • plates

1. Prepare your pine cones

  • Go on a walk to find some nice big pine cones. If your pine cones and tightly closed, let them sit out on a counter for a few days so they can “bloom”—or, bake them in a 300° oven for ten minutes to get them to open up.
  • Tie a string to the tip of the pine cone.

2. Add the peanut butter

  • Use a butter knife or spatula to cover the pine cone with peanut butter. Be sure to get it in all the cracks! Try to do this over a plate to contain the mess.

IS PEANUT BUTTER SAFE FOR BIRDS TO EAT? Peanut butter is a good high-protein food for birds, and they eat any of the same types humans do. If you’re buying it specifically for birds, look for natural or organic types with the fewest additives. It’s best to avoid low-fat varieties, which may not have as much nutritional value for the birds. (

3. Roll it in bird seed

  • Pour some birdseed onto a plate and roll the pine cone in it. The seed will stick to the peanut butter. Once your pine cone is covered, push the birdseed into the peanut butter and roll again. Get as much seed on it as you can.

4. Hang it up

  • Find branches that you can see from a window in your home and that are high enough off the ground that animals won’t try and steal the bird’s treat.
  • Enjoy watching the birds!


Give the birds a feast by decorating a whole tree for them. There are many treats you can make for them besides the pine cones.

  • Popcorn strings
  • Whole apples or apple slices
  • Peanut butter toast with raisins pressed into the peanut butter. (Try cutting the toast into shapes with cookie cutters before hanging)
  • Strings of cereal
  • Strings of cranberries

Have fun!