Easy Elderberry Birdfeeders

If you have elderberry bushes, you'll have a lot of competition for those precious, immune-supporting berries each summer.  Elderberry plants attract a large variety of birds, including warblers, orioles, tanagers, catbirds, waxwings, mockingbirds, and thrashers.  Squirrels are also big fans of the fruit and foliage.  

elderberry fruit

While humans need their elderberries cooked (raw elderberries contain the chemicals lectin and cyanide, which can make you ill), birds can eat them raw OR cooked.  This gave us a great idea for the elderberry mash that's left behind when we make a Sweet's DIY Kit at home:  BIRDFEEDERS!

This easy craft is a fantastic project for kids on a winter day, and the entire family will enjoy watching the results!

Helpful hint: Before you start, you'll need to finish making that Sweet's DIY Kit and spread the leftover mash on a rimmed baking sheet to dry.  It'll be easier to work with that way.

Now, on to the birdfeeders. 

You'll need:

  • Birdseed
  • Dry Elderberry Mash from a completed Sweet's DIY Kit
  • Peanut Butter
  • Yarn
  • Pinecones (find dry ones that have opened, giving you more surface area and a place to tie a loop)
  • Pie pan or wide bowl
  • Rimmed Baking Sheets (one for mess containment, and one for a tray)
  • Willingness to get a little messy


1.  Mix birdseed and elderberry mash on the rimmed baking sheet.

2.  Over the pie pan or wide bowl, spread each pinecone with peanut butter.  Make sure it gets into the nooks and crannies.  Your hands will get messy, but do it for the birds.

3.  Roll the pinecones in the seed/mash mixture several times until they are well-coated.  Pat the mixture on if necessary.

4.  Tie one end of a yarn piece tightly around the top of the pinecone, leaving enough length to tie to a branch later. 

5.  Gently place the completed birdfeeders on a clean baking sheet.  

6.  Wash your hands, then head outside. Hang the feeders where you'll be able to spot them from your windows.  Consider using branches that have other branches nearby, so the birds have a place to stand as they peck.

7.  Head back inside, and keep an eye out.  It may take a few hours - even a day or so - for the birds to figure things out, but once they do, they'll be sure to enjoy your handiwork!  

If you create something with Sweet's Elderberry Kit mash, please share with us!  We'd love to see!  

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