St. Mike's kids help bird habitat on Outlet Trail

John Christensen
St. Michael School second and third graders made pine cone bird feeders to hang on the Keuka Outlet Trail.

Some of the students of St. Michael School recently took a constructive field trip to Lake Street Park and the Keuka Lake Outlet to learn more about wildlife habitat and to make natural bird feeders to encourage more birdlife in the winter along the trail.

Phil Rahr, Friends of the Outlet board member and chairman of their Community Relations Committee, worked with St. Michael teacher Kristin Burch to organize the outing as a fun and active learning experience for her second and third graders.

“We talked a little bit about community service and how they (St. Michael School students) have helped out on the trail in the past. We also talked about the Friends of the Outlet and thanked them for their help,” said Rahr. Rahr explained winter bird feeding, and how it helps birds to survive the cold weather and increase wildlife along the trail. Rahr is also the Assistant Athletic Trainer at Keuka College, and has been instrumental in the involvement of Keuka College athletes in community service on the trail.

Each of Burch’s 12 students made three pine cone bird feeders. When completed, they each chose a spot on the trail to hang one up. One is to take home to hang there, and the remaining 12 were hung up along the farther parts of the Outlet Trail by Rahr the following day.

“The kids all thought it was ‘awesome’ getting messy and helping feed the birds for winter,” said Rahr.

The Friends of the Outlet are planning more events in the spring for this class and others from St. Michael to be involved with, “And hopefully,” adds Rahr, “Penn Yan Elementary as well.”

Pinecone Bird Feeders

What you need:

Pinecones, preferably open


Peanut butter/suet/shortening (or use lard to avoid allergy issues)

Oatmeal or cornmeal

Birdseed mix from the store

Plate or pie tin


Tie a string around the pinecone near the stem.

Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter, suet, or shortening with 1/2 cup oats or cornmeal.

Use a spoon or fingers to spread the mixture onto the pinecone. Make sure to get the mixture into the open areas of the pinecone. It’s easier if the mixture is warm.

Place birdseed in pie tin. Roll and press seed onto pinecone until well covered.

Hang your pinecone bird feeder in a tree.Try to place it away from the tree trunk so it’s more difficult for squirrels to get to it.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders