Children spend time making bird feeders and birdhouses at Ford Nature Center
By Sean Barron
It’s probably a sure bet that Laurie Clifford’s yard soon will see added visitors, thanks in large part to her two sons’ creativity.
“We have about a half-acre with woods,” Clifford said, referring to her Columbiana home and property.
The added guests to her yard likely will be the winged kind, because of her sons Gabriel, 4, and Mitchell, 5, who added their touches to log-shaped bird feeders during Saturday’s bird feeder-making class at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Ford Nature Center.
The brothers were among those who made and took home feeders constructed from milk cartons, logs and pine cones designed to attract a variety of birds such as titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers and chickadees, noted Marilyn Williams, a park naturalist who conducted the one-hour program at the South Side center at 840 Old Furnace Road.
“[Winter] is a nice time to help your birds in the backyard and provide them with food,” she explained.
Gabriel and Mitchell, who also like hummingbirds and occasionally leave sugar water for them, busily smeared
holes that had been drilled into 6-inch logs with a birdseed-and-suet mixture intended to attract more birds. Accompanying the boys and their mother were family friends Sheila Alexander and her 4-year-old son, Lucas, of Brookfield, each of whom used a pine cone and a log to make a feeder.
In addition, several children and their parents enjoyed painting milk cartons, all of which had large holes cut on all sides to entice many types of birds. One child painted his name, age and Saturday’s date.
Intricately filling each crevice of a pine cone absorbed much of 7-year-old Carmen Reed’s attention. The Hudson girl and her brother, Holden, 6, carefully crafted their cones with a white suet that resembled mashed potatoes before dipping them into a birdseed mixture.
“It was a very nice surprise coming up here,” said the youngsters’ grandmother, Cynthia Reed of Youngstown, referring to the family-friendly gathering.
The project provided additional means for participants to spread their creative wings because they can add any combination of rice, vegetables, oats, peanut butter and other foods to the suet, Williams said, noting that certain foods also keep woodpeckers warm during the winter.
After the program, a few feeders were hung on a tree outside the nature center, she added.