If you missed out on Conservation Week (10-18 September 2016) there’s still time to join activities around the country and enjoy our natural world.
Why not take time out from technology and swap your screens for green by bringing wildlife to your garden to celebrate?
Many studies now show what parents, teachers, childcare providers and children have long-known—direct experiences in nature benefit our mental, emotional and physical health and well-being.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) has been working to make it easy for families to connect with the natural world at home as well as in the great outdoors. Here are a couple of activities they recommend to get you started in your own back yard.
Pine cone bird feeder
Level: easy peasy
Silvereyes, sparrows and starlings will love this simple bird feeder.
Collect the items you’ll need
• Pine cone
• Butter knife
• Smooth peanut butter and lard
Make your bird feeder
1. Use scissors to cut a long piece of string to hang the bird feeder. Take the string and tie a knot around the pine cone near the top (at the stalk end). Tie a knot in the other end of the string so you can hang your bird feeder.
2. Use the butter knife to get equal parts peanut butter and lard on the plate. Use the butter knife to spread the peanut butter and lard mixture inside the pine cone and around the edges.
3. Hold the pine cone over the plate and sprinkle birdseed over it. Roll the pine cone in any birdseed that has fallen on the plate.
4. Pick a place in your backyard that’s safe from predators – at least 3m off the ground and at the end of a tree branch. Hang your bird feeder and wait for the birds.
5. Take your bird feeder down at night so rats or mice don’t get to it.
You won’t get as many birds using the feeder as spring progresses, as natural food sources will be readily available again.
Kids will be simultaneously freaked and fascinated by these amazing insects. Encourage their curiosity by helping them build a “weta motel.”
• Start with a small log and saw it in half.
• Chisel out the weta gallery and drill an entrance tunnel.
• Nail or bind the two halves together and nail on a roof.
• Hang or tie the motel in a tree in a shady spot at about eye level.
Have fun making this weta motel: weta do not need perfection for a happy home. Tell DOC about your motel by visiting www.doc.govt.nz/claim-your-kiwi-guardians-medal and you’ll receive a Toyota Kiwi Guardians medal in the post!
Keen for more?
For more cool ideas to connect with nature, head to www.conservationweek.org.nz. For more articles about the great outdoors