Friday, December 23, 2011

This Tree is for the Birds

from the shepherds house
 Decorating a tree for the birds is an old tradition dating back to sixteenth century Europe. Not only does it liven up your yard, but decorating a tree with snacks for birds helps them make it through the cold winter days. You don’t need to go buy fancy birdseed ornaments – just gather some things around the house and create your own.

Think about things you can string onto garlands: old raisins, cranberries, dried apples, dates and figs, popcorn and peanuts in the shell. Even cheerios and fruit loops make good garlands.

Hang colored Indian corn, donuts, rice cakes, or bagels smeared with peanut butter and coated with birdseed.

Pack peanut butter into a pinecone (birds prefer chunky, I’m told) and roll that in cornmeal and birdseed.
From Chickens in the Road

Make “bread cookies”. Use a cookie cutter to cut a shape from a slice of bread. Poke a hole in the top for a string and then let the bread dry out overnight. Mix cornmeal, shortening, and peanut butter and spread the mix on both sides of the bread. Then decorate with sunflower seeds and other birdseed.

Use natural brown string, wool yarn, or raffia to hang the decorations. The birds can use the fibers in their spring nest-building.

What ideas can you think up?


  1. Our family has decorated an outdoor tree for wildlife for the past few years, and now do it instead of an indoor Christmas Tree. You will have the most luck attracting birds if it is proximate to an established feeder. We have found that the most successful ornament is suet balls, providing much-needed fat to help our feathered friends survive the winter. We render the suet ourselves by cooking it down(ask the supermarket butcher) add cornmeal and seeds, and wrap it with re-used red and yellow onion bags. Most of the birds ignore the cranberry and popcorn garlands (as lovely as they are) and will always eat birdseed. Thanks for sharing this project, it is a fun way for all ages to attract wildlife in the winter!

  2. I just stumbled on your blog and love it. We make a Night Tree-based on Eve Bunting's book, in my classroom every year. The students take a bag home with the book and directions. The next day, they return the cloth bag with food for the animals they created. When everyone has had a turn, we go out decorate the tree, and join hands and sing carols. It's one of my favorite December activities. We check the tree often to see what is gone!