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Feeding time

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By Ros Patchingeducation projects manager at the RSPB

Planning a bird feeder for the school grounds

You will need

Catalogue/magazine pictures of birdfeeders; images of birds feeding; ‘Eating out’ activity sheet.

What to do

Explain that you are going to plan and make a bird feeder for the school grounds. Start by inviting the children to ‘think like a bird’ – what will they need to do/provide to attract birds to their school? It may surprise young children to learn that birds have different eating habits. Just like us, they like different foods, and have preferences about where and how they like to eat.

Together with the children, look at an enlarged copy of the ‘Eating out’ activity sheet. Talk about the different types of food and feeding positions. For example, small agile birds are more likely to use hanging feeders because they can perch lightly and some even hang upside down. Look at pictures of feeders and discuss the differences.

Extend the children’s thinking to the environment. Would birds prefer an enclosed space out of the weather, or more open so they can see predators such as cats? (Some shelter is good, but birds also need a clear view of the surroundings.) Do the children know which birds are most at risk from predators? (Those that feed on the ground.) Would birds like bushes or trees to fly into if danger approaches? How can other animals be prevented from stealing the food?

feeding bird image

Once you have discussed these questions, get the children to work in groups to plan what feeder they would like to try, and why. Following this, bring the groups back together to discuss the different ideas.


Take the children to a bird feeder you have already set up in the school grounds. Ask them to talk about why you might have chosen this spot and how the feeder helps birds to eat or drink.