Bird Cookies

We have TONS of birds and squirrels that eat at our bird feeders year round. Every winter solstice we have a tradition of making bird cookies. Just like decorating Christmas cookies, we decorate bird cookies which are apple and orange slices, slathered with sugar free peanut butter, dried fruits, and seeds. Usually there is a lot extra toppings and seeds from making bird cookies, I like to use leftovers from the bird cookies to make suet feeders. Suet is an excellent source of fat to give birds needed energy during the cold winter months. We hang the bird cookies and suet feeders outside for the winter birds and squirrels, the treats disappear very quickly.

Bird Cookies
*apples
*cranberries
*sunflower seeds
*almonds
*bird seed mix
*dried orange slices and pieces
*peanut butter
*string
*bamboo skewers (you need something to punch a small hole through the apple slices, a pencil could work as well)

Suet Feeders
*metal heart mold or alternative
*string
*vegetable shortening or animal lard
*bird seed mix
*cranberries, almonds, dried orange slices, etc

Bird Cookies

Step 1: To make bird cookies, cut apples into circular slices; chop almonds, cranberries, and oranges into small pieces.

Step 2: Punch small holes into the apples and thread with string.

Step 3: Cover one side of an apple slice in peanut butter. Add toppings of your choice, make special designs such as faces, or just cover in seeds.

Suet Feeders

Step 1: To make suet feeders, lay half a strand of string into the mold, leaving a lop sticking out of the top. Fill the mold with seed and other ingredients of your choice.

Step 2: Melt vegetable shortening into a liquid form using the double broiler method on the stove top (I use a large pyrex measuring cup sitting in a hot bath of water).

Step 3: Place bird mix into the molds then pour vegetable shortening into the mold, fill to the top. Place suet in the freezer and let them sit for 2-3 hours.

Hang the bird cookies and suet feeders outside on trees. Watch and see what birds come to the feeder.

Curiosities- Feeding Birds
*The seeds that attract the greatest number of bird species are black-oil sunflower seeds. Black-oil sunflower seeds are popular with most birds because they have a high meat to shell ratio and are easy to crack open as they have thin shells.
*Peanut butter and suet attract insect eating birds like woodpeckers and nuthatches.
*Thistle seed attracts birds in the finch family such as pine siskins.
*Peanuts and mealworms can be fed to birds, the blue jays in my yard love peanuts.
Why should you feed birds in winter?
Feeding birds in the winter increases their winter survival rate. Feeder fed birds are in better physical condition at the end of winter than those without assess to a bird feeder. Feeding birds can help them survive through tough times in their lives such as after a harsh winter, when they are young adults, or birds living in habitats lacking abundant food sources (source).

Curiously,

Fauna

Pressed Leaf Star Garland

img_1044

Quick, Quick, run outside and gather some of those large sycamore leaves off the ground! They make the loveliest pressed stars for stringing!

img_1042

You Need:
*large sycamore leaves in various colors
*star cookie cutter
*scissors
*pen (I found that a Sharpie fine tip works the best)
*thread and needle for stringing
*book for pressing

img_1031

Steps:

  1. Place the star cutter on a smooth space on the leaf.
  2. Trace the star with a pen.
  3. Cut the star from the leaf carefully.
  4. Press the stars in a heavy book for at least 60 hours to prevent stars from curling.  *Important!*
  5. Thread the stars together with string to make a star garland.
  6. The stars would be very pretty dipped in beeswax as well.

 

Curiosities-

Why do leaves change color? My previous post (link here) explains what happens.

 

Curiously,|
Fauna

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

poopthumb_img_0848_1024

It’s a question we have all been asking since we were little- why do leaves go from green to red, to orange, or to yellow in the fall? Well, there are 3 factors that influence this spectacular change: 1. pigments in the leaf, 2. the decreasing length of the day and sunshine, and 3. weather. As our nights grow longer, days grow shorter, and the temperatures get cooler, a biochemical process is taking place in the leaves of deciduous trees.

Some Curiosities to Know:
Photosynthesis– when you break this word apart it means- “putting together with light,” since photo means light and synthesis means to put together. With the help of sunlight, leaves put together carbon dioxide and water to make sugar and oxygen.

So, let’s talk a little about pigments:
Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color. It is necessary for photosynthesis, as is light, carbon dioxide from the air, and water from the soil.
Carotenoid produces orange colors. You see this pigment in sugar maple and sassafras leaves and carrots and pumpkins.
Anthocyanin produces red, purple, and blue colors; they are water soluble which appear in the leaf cells’ watery liquid. You see this pigment in red maple, scarlet maple, oak, and red sumac. You also see it in fruits and veggies such as- grapes, red apples, blueberries, and strawberries.
Xanthophyll produces yellow color. You see this pigment in maples, beech, honey locust, and aspen leaves. This pigment also gives squash and corn their yellow coloring.

During the warm months and longer days of spring and summer chlorophyll is continually being produced and causing the leaves to be green. When the days become shorter during the autumn months, the production of chlorophyll slows down and eventually stops completely; therefore putting on a display of the beautiful carotenoid, xanthophyll, and anthocyanin pigments that make autumn.

Now to extract the pigments-

You Need:
 *leaves of many colors, use colored fall leaves as well, 4 or 5 of each color
*glass jars (one for each color)
*rubbing alcohol
*small bowl of hot water
*filter paper (white coffee paper or a tea bag)
*butter knife

Step 1: Gather the leaves and rip them into small pieces. Place same colors in separate jars.

poopthumb_img_0839_1024

Step 2: Add rubbing alcohol into the jar until it just covers the leaves.

poopthumb_img_0842_1024

Step 3: With a butter knife mash and bruise the leaves.

poopthumb_img_0845_1024

Step 4: (optional)  Boil some water and place in a bowl, add your jar with the leaves and alcohol. This will speed up the pigment extraction a little bit, but I don’t feel the results are fast enough to make it necessary.

thumb_img_0847_1024

Step 5: Place the filter paper into the leaf mixture, leaving the top to hang over the top of the jar.

thumb_img_0874_1024

Step 6: Wait an hour and you will start seeing the pigments make an appearance on the filter paper. Wait 24 hours for the best results.

poopthumb_img_0857_1024

Wow, look at the anthocyanin extracted from the red maple leaves! It is so pretty!

thumb_img_0881_1024

Stay Curious,
Araina