DIY Bird Feeder to Help Birds Through Utah’s Winters

Male and Female House Finch

Wintertime in Utah, with our snow-blanketed mountains and valleys, can seem like everything is in hibernation. You might be surprised to find there are birds who migrate to Utah in the wintertime, and an abundance of overwintering birds who stay year-round.

To survive the below-freezing temperatures and short days, these birds must work hard all winter to find food and stay warm.

Your DIY Bird Feeder Will Keep Birds Returning to Your Yard, Which is a Good Idea

Now, more than any time during the year, birds need sustenance, as most of their food sources, like insects, are scarce or simply not available.

We wanted to learn more about helping birds thrive during Utah's winters, so we reached out to the Wasatch Audubon Society for more information.

"Many natural habitats and food sources are diminishing as urban developments grow, and this is worsened by winter conditions," explains Wasatch Audubon President, Dan Johnston. He encourages homeowners to hang bird feeders, especially during Utah's cold winter months.

Our little feathered friends who stay to brave Utah's winters are also fantastic garden pollinators, and excellent at pest control during the warmer seasons. So, it's a good idea to keep birds happy, healthy, and returning to your yard during the long winter months.

According to Jay Stretch, Wasatch Audubon Society Vice President, birds serve as valuable members of the ecosystem, both in the wilderness and in your neighborhood. "Songbirds like Chickadees and House Finches help the ecosystem, aside from being a lot of fun to watch," says Jay. "Small birds help pollinate as they flit from plant to plant feeding." He explains that these birds especially depend on feeders in the winter.

When asked how many wintering birds there are, Dan Johnston says, "More than I can count, there are a lot." We saw a variety of birds at our feeder, including Black-Capped Chickadees, House Finches, a Junco, and a Ruby Crested Kinglet.

Helpful Resources and Information on Birds in Utah.

Bird species can also vary by location. Check your local birdwatching guides to find species unique to your area! We used the free app Merlin BirdID from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Documenting birds you see can be a fun pastime. You can even be a citizen scientist and participate in bird counting projects like The Great Backyard Bird Count. The Wasatch Audubon Society also publishes their bird count data. They often host bird walks on Wednesdays and Saturdays, sign up for their The Mountain Chickadee newsletter to stay up to date on events and happenings.

The DIY Pine cone Bird Feeder!

We made this simple bird feeder using pine cones, ribbon, peanut butter, and bird seed. It’s easy and a fun activity with kids. They make great gifts to neighbors and friends, and you can start enjoying and discovering Utah’s colorful winter birds.

Step 1: Gather Your Pine Cones

It helps to find pine cones that are more rounded and open like these lodgepole pine cones. And, of course, the bigger the better.

Step 2: Tie Ribbon or String Around Them

Step 3: Cover Them With Peanut Butter


Pine cone feeder preparation. Copy Right of KUED
Pine cone feeder preparation. Copy Right of KUED


Pine cone covered with peanut butter. Copy Right of KUED
Pine cone covered with peanut butter. Copy Right of KUED

This is the messy part. Latex gloves can help but really glob the peanut butter on.

Tip: Another awesome homemade bird feeder is a suet feeder. Wasatch Audubon Society Vice President Jay Stretch prefers using suet because it’s a great source of protein for birds and free from processed sugars.

Step 4: Roll Your Pine Cone Feeder in the Bird Seed

The peanut butter acts as a glue. You can really mash a lot of seed onto the cone.

Tip: To prevent sunflower seed husks from accumulating on the ground, you can opt to buy pre-husked sunflower seed bird feed.

Step 5: Hang Your Bird Feeder!


Hanging the bird feeder. Copy Right of KUED
Hanging the bird feeder. Copy Right of KUED


Hanging bird feeder. Copy Right KUED
Hanging bird feeder. Copy Right KUED

The birds will pick every last morsel off the pine cones so don't be afraid to use them again and again. As always, feel free to tag Modern Gardener on Instagram and Facebook with your photos and findings!


DIY bird feeder. To birds from you tag. Copy Right of KUED
DIY bird feeder. To birds from you tag. Copy Right of KUED

Don’t forget to follow Modern Gardener on Instagram and Facebook to see more information about gardening, and chime in with your own tips or stories!

If you live in Utah and have a garden or garden project that you'd like to be featured on Modern Gardener, click here!

Ashley Swansong

Modern Gardener Host and Author

Ashley works for KUED Channel 7 as a digital producer and host of Modern Gardener. She loves gardening and is excited to share what she's learned from her own garden!Read more

Alaynia Winter

KUED Production Intern

Alaynia Winter earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from University of Utah. A member of student media in college, she wrote for Wasatch Magazine, University of Utah's outdoor lifestyle magazine. When not gardening, Alaynia spends time with her very spoiled dog.Read more