Making a Pumpkin Bird Feeder

4:08 AM

The grocery stores, coffee shops, bakeries and farmers markets are all about pumpkin again! Welcome Fall 2017! Pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin baked goods are going to be hard to escape for the next little while. Why not embrace the pumpkin and make a festive new bird feeder? Pumpkin bird feeders are a great fall activity to do with children, from selecting the pumpkin, to taking out all the squishy bits by hand and finally enjoying the birds that come for a visit- it's a win-win. Here's what you will need to make a Pumpkin Bird Feeder:
  • Pumpkin the size and colour of your choosing
  • Large kitchen knife and spoon 
  • Newspaper 
  • 5 lbs. High Quality Bird Seed Blend (without fillers)
  • 2 lbs. of Peanuts in the Shell
  • Optional: Twine if your going to hang it

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) and White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Carving the Pumpkin
Just about any pumpkin will do as long it can will hold a few cups of bird seed. If your going to hang it keep in mind, that you don't want anything too heavy.

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) feeding on sunflower chips.

Spread out your newspaper on a table and using the knife cut your pumpkin in half. If your pumpkin is shorter (squatter) or you want a larger capacity for seed use your judgement on where to cut. Keep in mind that pumpkins are moist on the inside and this is a good environment for the spoilage of seed, so you don't want to put too much seed in your pumpkin. A good rule of thumb is to make it large enough to hold 2-3 days worth of bird seed.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) grabbing a triple peanut.

Because pumpkins bottoms are uneven and I use my pumpkin bird feeders as a tray style feeder on my deck railing, I cut a small piece off the bottom so the the pumpkin would sit flat and wouldn't be knocked off by my hungry Blue Jays. 😀 If your hanging your bird feeder, you can skip this step.
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) enjoying a triple peanut.

Next is the fun part! Remove all the seeds and squishy bits with your hand or a spoon. Save the pumpkin seeds for baking or to plant in the garden next year if you wish. Once you remove all of the pumpkins seeds scrape the walls a little to get as much of the wet material out as possible. You want to the pumpkin to be as dry as possible.
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) and American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) and American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) feeding on sunflower chips.

If you are planning on hanging the pumpkin carve or drill 3 holes into the pumpkin 1.5-2" from the top. The holes should be spaced evenly around the pumpkin. String some twine through each hole and gather the twine together in the middle with a knot. Voila! You can now hang your pumpkin bird feeder. Test it out first to make sure it is secure enough to hang. If hanging doesn't work, not to worry you can always use it as a tray feeder.

The Most Important Part- The Bird Seed!
The birds won't care what your bird feeder looks like, but they will care how you fill it! Meaning, make sure to fill the best quality seed without any fillers- grains that the birds don't eat and throw onto the ground in search of seeds they like. So many DIY bird feeder tutorials feature awful seed that the birds won't even eat! The right seed is the key to attracting birds to your feeder. You've spent time making your feeder, it's also important to make sure to set the table with the finest foods for the birds. The seed blend you choose should be mostly black oil sunflower with a few other ingredients including peanuts out of the shell, a bit of safflower and sunflower chips. Our Wild Birds Unlimited Choice Blend or Supreme Blend would be an excellent selection for your feeder.  For a pumpkin bird feeder I would recommend using a blend that has seed in the shell to protect the seeds from spoilage, however you can use a Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend without shells if you only put a small amount of food in each day.
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) enjoying sunflower chips.
When your ready fill your feeder with the seed blend and leave a little room for a few peanuts in the shell for jays to enjoy!

Visitors 
If you use a seed blend with black oil sunflower seeds and sunflower chips you can expect to get a variety of visitors including chickadees, finches and sparrows. Nuthatches and woodpeckers will enjoy the peanuts (out of the shell) and the jays will enjoy peanuts in or out of the shell. I'd love to hear what visitors show up to your feeders feel free to post you sightings in a comment below. 👆😊

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) and American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) and American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) feeding on sunflower chips.
I hope you embrace the pumpkin season and enjoy the fall!

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