Building a snowman is not only a fun winter project, it can also be a creative way to add to a backyard bird feeding station. With just a few steps, it's easy to turn any snowman into a whimsical winter bird feeder.
What You Need
The most important supply for a snowman bird feeder is the appropriate snow. There should be enough snow to make a sizeable snowman, and the snow should be wet enough to be easily packed into firm balls or other shapes. At the same time, the weather should be pleasant enough to spend time making the snowman without risking frostbite or enduring uncomfortable freezing rain or other hazardous conditions.
In addition to the right snow, you need just a few supplies to construct a snowman bird feeder…
- Food: Any bird food can be used to decorate a snowman feeder, but it is important to offer the best winter bird foods to give backyard birds adequate nutrition and energy for cold winter conditions. A greater variety of foods will make the snowman more appealing and will attract a greater variety of hungry birds.
- Branches: Depending on how you design your snowman, a pair of sturdy branches can be useful as arms. The branches may also be able to support small hanging bird feeders, adding another option to the feeding station. The branches should be at least a half inch thick to support the weight of any feeders, or thinner branches can be used for decoration.
- Accessories: Be creative with accessorizing the snowman with gloves, hats, scarves, a broomstick or other gear if desired. While these accessories are not necessary for a practical feeding station, they can be fun for personalizing the snowman.
Making the Snowman
There is no limit to the design, size or shape of the snowman, but it can be a more effective bird feeding station with some basic guidelines. When building the snowman, consider…
- Position: The snowman should be in an area where birds will easily see it and notice the food it offers, ideally close to an established feeding station. Avoid putting a snowman feeder in a front yard near a busy street, since birds would be at risk of vehicle collisions as they fly to and from the feeder.
- Feeding Space: Horizontal surfaces are easier to turn into a feeding station, so design the snowman with an eye toward broad spaces. A flatter head, wider shoulders and full hips can all be used as feeding areas, or the snowman could be designed with its hands cupped or folded in front of its belly for a built-in dish feeder.
- Imperfection: As birds find and use the snowman feeder, they will peck away at its shape, and their body heat and talons will dramatically change the shape of the snowman. Don't worry about creating the perfect snowman, because it will quickly lose that perfection as it is used. Far more important it making it the perfect feeder to attract hungry winter birds.
Adding the Food
After the snowman is built, it is time to transform it into a whimsical feeder. Every part of the snowman can become a tasty treat for birds, including…
- Hat: Use a broad-brimmed top hat, sprinkling seed along the brim to feed birds, or else use a stocking cap with seed sprinkled over it. If you don't have a hat for the snowman, a small dish feeder can be placed on its head, or you can use seed to create edible hair.
- Eyes: Citrus slices, medium sized apples, orange halves, small suet balls, or mini donuts* can be pressed into the snowman's face to create eyes. Choose food that is appropriately sized for the proportions of the head, and be sure the treats are pressed firmly in to the snow but are still accessible to birds.
- Nose: A carrot, millet stalk, suet plug, elongated pear, dried corn cob or long pine cone bird feeder can be a great snowman nose. A longer nose will provide a good perch for feeding birds, but be sure the nose is firmly embedded in the face so it does not wiggle loose as birds feed.
Mouth: Craft the snowman's smile using peanuts, acorns, cranberries, raisins, grapes, bits of dried fruit, suet nuggets or unsweetened cereal* for an edible mouth. A large banana with the peel split to provide access to the flesh can also be a good snowman smile birds will enjoy.
- Buttons: If you want buttons down the snowman's front, opt for citrus slices, apples, pears, oatmeal cookies* or similar foods that can be pressed into the snowman's belly. Don't overwhelm the snowman with buttons – just 3-4 is adequate and will be a welcome treat for birds.
- Scarf: Add an edible scarf to the snowman by wrapping a bird feeder garland around the neck several times, then draping the ends down the front or back of the snowman. Looping the ends several times will add thickness to the scarf for a better appearance. Another option is to layer a thick coating of seed around the neck and across the shoulders to look like a scarf.
- Other Foods: To add even more edible appeal to the snowman, hang small feeders, pine cone feeders or similar creative options from the arm branches, or string large citrus slices on the arms and hands. If you created a snowman with folded hands, fill that small space with extra seed. An extra feeder garland can be a belt, and you can add birdseed ornaments or other accents not only on the snowman, but on nearby trees or bushes.
*These foods are less healthy for birds and should only be offered in very limited quantities as rare treats, not as regular food options.
Cleaning a Snowman Bird Feeder
A snowman feeder is easy to clean and refresh so birds can use it all winter long. When most of the food is consumed, scrape away a thin layer of snow to remove any hulls, feathers, feces or other debris. If you want to reform the snowman, add fresh snow and pat it into place before refreshing the food decorations to refill the feeder.
Carefully constructed and thoughtfully filled, a snowman bird feeder can be a fun winter project and a popular feeding station for all sorts of winter birds to enjoy.