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Family STEAM Challenge: Feed the Birds

explore and observe wild birds right outside your window

It’s finally 2021, but with it being so chilly, there isn’t as much to do outside of the house. But something that we can do is observe the outside while providing the animals that do live in the cold with a tasty treat!


Exploring and observing the birds in the wild.


Use your scientific and detective skills to figure out the best food for the birds in your neighborhood.


What food is best for your birds? What is the best container to feed it to them in? How many of each bird comes to eat?

MATERIALS YOU COULD USE (but are not limited to):
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Toilet paper tube (or paper towel)
  • Plastic container
  • Peanut butter (or shortening)
  • Other seeds/ bird seed
  • String
  • Paper
  • Pencil

This challenge is very open-ended as it can be applied whenever and wherever the materials are available.

To start, find a perfect spot to place your feeder outside. This way you know what kind of feeder to make for your birds. Different birds live in different neighborhoods, so watch outside and identify what kind of birds you see. Then you can research what kind of seeds or food they prefer.

Next you can decide which feeder to make. One option is to use a paper tube, either from toilet paper or from paper towel, and cover the entire tube in peanut butter or in shortening. After the tube is covered, you can roll it in bird seed, or whatever food you’ve decided to use for your birds! Finally, pull a string through the tube and tie it onto a branch or railing.

Another way to make a feeder is to cut the top off a plastic container, punch holes in the container’s sides, and fill it with seeds. Then run a string through the holes and hang it out for the birds. Once your feeder is finished and you put it outside, watch and record the kinds of birds that visit to eat!

  • What species of birds live in our area?
  • Are there different birds at different times of the year?
  • How many different species are there at your feeder?
  • If you put out different kinds of feed, will more birds come?
  • Do more come to a tree or to the patio or deck?

The Family STEAM Challenge is all about experimenting with the ordinary to make the extraordinary! Chippewa Valley Family challenges your family to think and play together all in the name of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (that’s where the STEAM comes in).

Each challenge can be completed as a family or a group of friends in as little or as much time needed; however, most challenges can be completed within one sitting. The Family STEAM Challenge is also designed to get all ages involved through hands-on experimenting.

Thank you to Sarah McInnis with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire for making this STEAM challenge possible!

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