Decorating a Christmas tree for the birds is inexpensive and easy. Most of the time you can use what you already have around the house.
Tip: be sure to use a tree that can be seen easily from a window in your home so that you will be able to enjoy the parade of birds coming in.
The custom of decorating a Christmas tree for the birds began in the sixteenth century when people honored animals and birds because of their presence at the Nativity scene.
Birds are not only beautiful to watch and delightful to listen to, but their love for eating pesky bugs such as grubs and aphids also make them valuable allies for gardeners. Attracting birds to our gardens and lawns is a natural and chemical free way of reducing unwanted garden pests.
When choosing foods to decorate the tree use ones that are high in fats and carbohydrates as birds require lots of energy during the cold winter months. These foods can include:
- Unsalted nuts and nut butters
- Mild cheeses
- Buttered popcorn (with unsalted butter)
- Fresh coconut
- Roasted potatoes
- Mince pies
- Tie dried seed heads of wildflowers and herbs such as Goldenrod, Sunflowers, Mullein, Black Eyed Susans, and Echinacea in bouquets with colorful string and hang. (I always leave herbs such as Echinacea and Mullein go to seed at the end of the season to provide food for the birds during the winter.)
- Dried fruit such as cranberries, apples, oranges, and melons
- Breakfast cereals (un-sugared ones such as Cheerios)
- Garlands can be made with many of the items listed above such as popcorn, potatoes, the dried fruits, Cheerios, peanuts, and chunks of cheeseHang miniature baskets filled with shredded cheese or pieces of donuts
- Dip stale donuts in suet and sprinkle with bird seed. My idol, the late Tasha Tudor, used to make homemade donuts to decorate a tree for the birds on Christmas. Store bought donuts work just as well. (However, I did use our precious bacon fat that I saved from our farm fresh nitrate-free bacon as the suet.)
- Cover large pine cones with peanut butter and dip in bird seed. Hang with a red ribbon or string.
More holiday ideas:
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