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In the Garden

Holiday Treats for the Birds

Cardinal on a branchWhen you're making your list of holiday presents for your friends and relatives, don't forget to include your backyard birds!

With the cold weather settling in, the birds appreciate the treats you provide for them. It's easy and fun to make treats for birds -- it's a great afternoon project for kids, too.

Colorful Treats

During the holidays, we all love to see colorful decorations. Why not add some to your backyard that also feed the birds! Here are some ideas:

  1. Wreaths for birds. A giant sunflower head can make a great wreath. Just remove the center, add a wire to the back to hang the wreath and hang it from a branch or at your bird feeding station. Add colorful fruit, millet sprays or peanuts to the sunflower head to dress it up.

    You can also make a wreath by decorating a metal wreath frame with edible seeds and fruits, like millet sprays, winterberry branches, juniper branches or small cobs of corn.
  2. Outdoor Christmas Tree Decorations. When you're done with your Christmas tree inside, place it outside and decorate it with bird treats. Here's a list of ideas:

    • Peanut Strings. String peanuts in the shell and wrap it around the tree. It will keep birds busy for weeks, including chickadees, nuthatches, bluejays, woodpeckers and other seed eating birds.

    • Doughnuts. Get some day-old donuts, tie a string to them and hang them from the tree.

    • Raisins. Take a needle and string and make strings of raisins to hang on the tree. Make little wreaths or long string of raisins.

    • Fruit slices. Slice fruit, attach a string or wire and hang them from the tree. Oranges, persimmons and apples are readily eaten by lots of birds.

    • Pinecones and peanut butter. Spread peanut butter on and into pinecones and hang them from the tree.

    • Suet bags. Place suet in red mesh onion bags and hang from the tree. To make the bags go farther, cut them into 5-inch squares and wrap them around small chunks of suet. Close it shut with a twist tie or colorful ribbon and hang them from the tree.

Postcard of child feeding birdsTreats from Your Cupboards

Here's a chance to clean out your cupboard and feed the birds at the same time. Got a half-empty bag of dried-out raisins? Does that peanut butter in the cupboard look a little old? How about some really old cornmeal? What about some ancient molasses that you haven't used in a few years? Well, get all that stuff out of your cupboard and pour it all into a bowl. Mix it together into a meal or chunks and place it out for the birds. You can offer it in a tray or scoop it into colorful containers. Got some old oranges in the fridge? Cut them in half, scoop out the fruit, put a string through the rind for hanging and spoon the peanutbutter mixture into the orange rind. Hang it from tree branches or at your feeders and watch the birds flock in.


In winter, fat is fuel for birds. And peanut butter and suet are favorite bird treats in the winter. You can offer these by themselves in trays, containers, spread into pine cones or stuffed into holes in wood logs.

If your treats disappear quickly, buy cheap buckets of peanut butter as a fat source. Suet is kinda' cheap, too, and can be purchased at the meat department of most grocery stores or can be bought already processed in packages at bird seed sections of stores.

So when you're out and about shopping for holiday presents this year, don't forget to add bird treats to your list!

This page was last updated January 12, 2013

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