how to make a bird treat

Crossing out several names on my Christmas list this year, I was left with a bird lover/watcher who I knew would appreciate homemade bird treat ornaments. Feeding hungry songbirds in winter is a great way for people to interact with nature and help birds get through the tough months of winter. Studies show that bird feeding produces significantly earlier egg laying dates, larger clutches of eggs, and higher chick weights across a wide range of bird species.

My cookie cutters were drying on the counter top from cookie baking, and I decided to whip up a concoction of bird seed and gelatin and mold them into my favorite Christmas shapes. A raffia hanger would complete the ornaments, so they could be hung from a nearby tree to enjoy watching the birds swooping in to eat. This project was so successful that I also branched out into making a wreath and other smaller shapes with cooking molds.

The process of making a super frugal hand-made gift with just bird seed, gelatin, flour, corn syrup, and raffia, was done in an hour on a cold windy day. Laying out the ornaments to cure and air dry for a few days completed the process. Requiring no skill and just a few ingredients, I made enough for myself also to enjoy. After hanging out my ornaments, I noticed the birds start to feed almost immediately.

I used a general seed mix variety. You can also add dried/fresh fruit and meal worms, cracked corn, nuts, and pumpkin seeds-a great high fat source for songbirds.

When completed, pack the ornaments up attractively using burlap, tissue paper, and bows to show them off.

Mix up bird seed with dried fruit, fresh cranberries, and mealworms for a nutritious snack for songbirds

I enjoyed making the ornaments so much that I made a batch to fill up a small Bundt pan for a wreath. If you have gotten rid of all your Bundt or Jello molds, stop by a Goodwill for a cheap one. Before packing in the bird seed, I dropped dried or fresh cranberries in the bottom to make an attractive and nutritious accent. Be sure to thoroughly spray the Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray to make it easy to unmold. Other small molds work, like custard and muffin tins.

Place the wreath in the fridge or outside to chill thoroughly and harden before unmolding it onto a plate. I didn’t put a hole through the wreath for a hanger as it is too heavy. Instead wrap and tie your hanger around the entire wreath before hanging. If the wreath feels too fragile to hang, I place it on my bird feeder tray flat.

If the day is rainy, bring your seed ornaments and wreaths in, as they will dissolve in the rain!! These will last about 10 days outside feeding your birds and yes, your squirrels too. For a homemade suet recipe, go to Backyard Strategies for Extreme Weather.

Do wild birds need winter treats?

They don’t, but that doesn’t imply they won’t be enjoyable nonetheless. Even though I don’t need the tub of Haagen Daaz ice cream, I still like it and it makes me gain weight. The same is true for the birds, though since they must spend the entire winter outdoors, they can benefit from the excess fat. Me not so much .

This one is the easiest and quickest. This is not to say that the other ones are difficult; rather, it’s just that I had to list them in a certain order. Another advantage of these is that they have the pinecone there as a base structure in case it does warm up a little. If the temperature increases and the treat is no longer frozen, the twine or ribbon may break and the other ones may fall to the ground. Then you have bird treat mush, but even then, someone is going to take advantage of it!

how to make a bird treat

how to make a bird treat

Before unmolding the wreath onto a plate, let it cool completely and solidify in the refrigerator or outside. Because the wreath is too heavy, I decided not to drill a hole through it for a hanger. Rather, before hanging, completely encircle the wreath with your hanger. I lay the wreath flat on my bird feeder tray if it seems too delicate to hang.

While my cookie cutters were cooling on the counter from baking cookies, I made a mixture of gelatin and bird seed and shaped them into my favorite Christmas shapes. The ornaments would be complete with a raffia hanger, allowing them to be hung from a nearby tree so you could enjoy watching the birds fly in to eat. Because of how well this project turned out, I decided to use cooking molds to make a wreath and other smaller shapes.

It took an hour on a blustery, cold day to make a very inexpensive handcrafted gift using only bird seed, gelatin, flour, corn syrup, and raffia. The process was finished by laying out the ornaments to cure and air dry for a few days. With just a few ingredients and no skill required, I made enough for me to enjoy as well. Almost immediately after hanging out my ornaments, I noticed the birds began to feed.

Once finished, display the ornaments by packing them tastefully with burlap, tissue paper, and bows.

For a wholesome treat for songbirds, combine bird seed with mealworms, dried fruit, and fresh cranberries.

Pinecone & peanut butter bird treats

  • Pinecones
  • Butter knife or spatula for little kids
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Small dish or bowl for the birdseed
  • Cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Peanut butter
  • Wild bird seed
  • Black oiled sunflower seeds
  • Create a loop for hanging by wrapping the twine around the top of the pinecone.
  • In a small dish, pour some birdseed and sunflower seeds
  • Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  • Apply peanut butter all over the pinecone using a butter knife or spatula.
  • Press and roll the pinecone covered in peanut butter into the seeds.
  • To help the pinecones harden, arrange them on the cookie sheet and place them in the freezer for one hour.
  • Make sure there is a branch underneath where the birds can perch by hanging them outside for them.

To be honest, this is actually more like two and a half recipes. This one uses most of the same ingredients as Recipe #1 did but with a wee tweak. Just sayin’. I wouldn’t advise leaving these outside until you are certain that the temperature won’t drop below freezing. Why? Because if the mixture isn’t frozen, there isn’t a base structure. Thus, the pinecone treats are always the first ones I display.

how to make a bird treat

how to make a bird treat

FAQ

How do you give a bird a treat?

Some options include carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, as well as snap peas, broccoli and string beans, which are easily held by most birds and simple to munch on. Small amounts of fruit, such as berries, grapes and pieces of melon, mango, papaya, apple and pear are also a good option for birds.

What can I give a bird to eat?

When buying bird food, try to get a good mix of peanuts, seeds and live food like mealworms and waxworms. Fruit, especially bruised apples and pears, will be popular with thrushes and Blackbirds. Household scraps like pastry, cooked rice and breadcrumbs should only be offered in small amounts occasionally.