Feeding birds doesn't have to be an expensive or elaborate endeavor. During the winter it's sometimes hard for birds to find enough to eat, especially if the weather is harsh. With a few items readily found in nature, and some inexpensive items from your kitchen, you can make attractive and festive winter decor that tastes as good (to the birds), as it looks (to you).
TIP: Doityourself.com's expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson offers up these three feeder decorations:
Bird Seed Wreath
A bird seed wreath is an attractive addition to your regular bird feeding stations and offers quite a treat for hungry winter birds.
Step 1 - Roll one pound of frozen bread dough into a 30-inch rope.
Step 2 - Cut the rope into three, even strands each 10 inches long.
Step 3 - Braid the ropes together and form a circle.
Step 4 - Place the dough braid on a cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled.
Step 5 - Press fresh cranberries into the dough.
Step 6 - Preheat your oven 375 degrees.
Step 7 - Cook the wreath for 20 minutes.
Step 8 - Brush the braid with egg whites and cover with wild bird seed.
Step 9 - Put the braid back into the oven and bake it for another 10 minutes.
Step 10 - Let the braid dry for at least 24 hours before hanging up for the birds.
Birds will enjoy this fun and colorful fruit cup filled with seed. Make several of these to decorate your favorite small tree. This is a great craft to do with little ones.
Step 1 - Cut a large orange or grapefruit in half.
Step 2 - Scoop out the inside of citrus and enjoy.
Step 3 - Use an ice pick (adults only) to poke two small holes on either side of the fruit for hanging.
Step 4 - Make a mixture of fresh birdseed and cranberries and use to fill up the orange halves.
Step 5 - Hang the beautiful citrus feeders using twine, from your favorite trees.
Step 6 - Refill when empty.
Winter Hanging Suet Cake
Birds of all kinds enjoy suet. The energy suet provides helps the birds through the winter when food is scarce. These suet cakes are easy to make and make attractive decorations when hanging from shepherd’s poles wrapped in evergreen.
Step 1 - Heat 2/3 cups of shortening in a pot on the stove, set on medium, until it melts.
Step 2 - Take it off the stove and add 1 1/2 cups of mixed birdseed, chopped nuts, oats and raisins.
Step 3 - Pour mixture into clean yoghurt cups.
Step 4 - Allow mixture to cool and harden in the refrigerator for several hours.
Step 5 - Pop the suet treat out of the cups.
Step 6 - Place suet treats in a piece of suet netting and tie with a red bow.
Step 7 - Hang the suet treats from shepherds hooks wrapped in evergreen.
Wreaths and Swags
Make a basic wreath base from greens, princess pine, twigs, grasses or vines. You can also save time by purchasing a plain straw wreath from a craft store. Twist grapevines or lengths of staff vine or winterberry into quick and easy wreaths. By spiraling the vines around bundled circles of vine, the wreath should hold its shape, but you can hold the vines together with small pieces of craft wire if it is easier.
For a simple wreath made of evergreens, cut a pile of sprigs all to the same length. Stretch a coat hanger into a circle, keeping the hook at the top to hang the wreath. Start with one sprig, hold it close to the stretched hanger and wire the two together by wrapping craft wire around the sprig a couple of times. Lay a new sprig on top of the wired green. Wrap wire to the stem and repeat the process, continuing around the hanger, until the circle is completely filled with greens. (To save time, you may be able to attach a few sprigs of greens at once, so long as you are able to achieve even spacing and adequately hide the wires with the spray.) This basic set of directions works with virtually any wreath material. Princess Pine, a short, soft, tree like ground cover which grows beneath evergreen stands, is widely used for making wreaths this way, and does not need to be cut as it all grows to about the same height (usually 4 or 5 inches).
To the wreath base, add seeds, pods, berries and nuts. Skewer berries and fruit pieces and place them decoratively around your wreath. Acorn, nuts and pinecones look striking and welcome hungry squirrels and others. Tuck in short sections of winterberry or staff vine. Holly sprigs and berries add color and are a traditional Christmas ornamentation. Birds commonly seek out the berries of winterberry, staff vine (sometimes mistakenly called bittersweet) and holly. Hips from roses and other bushes and flowers add both color and an abundance of seed birds and wildlife love to eat. (Rose hips are small round balls, usually red, that look like a small fruit.)
Bird friendly hanging ornaments are easy to make for the out doors. Using a pine cone, peanut butter, bird seed and string, make easy bird feeders to hang from your trees. Cover the cone with the peanut butter, roll in bird seed until coated and attach a length of string or craft wire to the top for hanging. Dress up with small bows for more decoration if you want to.
As a final note, remember birds need water in the winter, too. To draw more birds and wildlife to your yard, provide a fresh bath of water daily.
By using natural elements for Winter and holiday décor, we work in partnership with the nature that surrounds us. As an added benefit, by bringing nature closer to our homes we are able to observe and appreciate these entertaining neighbors.