Taking ornaments off of my Christmas tree this season, I thought what a shame it would be to put it out to the curb for shredding into mulch. Wanting to make another use out of this hard working tree, I decided to decorate it with a bird buffet. A bird buffet and a dog buffet! – as my dogs were very interested in the pinecones smeared with lard and peanut butter. I found a few of the pinecones scattered around my yard licked clean!
Stringing popcorn for garlands while watching TV, I quickly amassed long strings of popcorn to drape as my first step. Cutting up fresh oranges, I strung them with yarn to tie on the branch tip and they also added lots of color.
I had a supply of bird seed ornaments ready to hang, and for a DIY on making molded bird seed ornaments, go to Bird Seed Ornaments for the Bird Lover.
Easy to make out of gelatin, flour, and bird seed, I hang them up all over my property. Inserting a dowel into the shape makes a hole for yarn or raffia to thread through for hanging.
Decorating Your Tree
I trimmed some of the bottom lateral branches off the fraser fir tree trunk so I could stick it deeply into a pot of soil. This step is necessary as the tree can be top heavy and fall over in a stiff breeze. Make sure the soil is moist which adds additional weight to the bottom. When freezing weather arrives, the tree will be frozen in place.
Arranging the garlands and the heaviest items – pinecones – was next. These were slathered with ‘Bark Butter’, a mixture of lard, peanut butter, and cornmeal, and then dipped in seeds and dried meal worms. ‘Bark Butter’ is simply spreadable suet that fuels birds in cold weather, and the recipe is below. If you have dogs, hang them out of reach!
I bought millet sprays online to get a bunch of them, but you can buy them in smaller quantities at pet stores.
The finishing touch was large hanks of natural sheep wool stuffed into crevices and bright red winterberry branches. Birds will be making nests soon and love sheep wool to line nests. I have found it in use in old nests around my property. Other materials that you could use are:
- Dead twigs
- Dead leaves
- Dry grass (make sure the grass hadn’t been treated with pesticides)
- Plant fluff or down (e.g. cattail fluff, cottonwood down)
- Bark strips
- Pine needles
The above information was found on the The Cornell Lab, which I found is a great resource for bird lovers.
Bark Butter is simple to make and very expensive at bird supply stores. The only hard part was to find lard, which I located at a local Amish Market.
Bark Butter for Birds
A high fat source of protein for feeding backyard birds; Slather it on branches and bird feeders
- 1 Lb Lard
- 1 C Peanut Butter, Creamy or Smooth
- 4 C Cornmeal
- 1 C Flour
Mix together peanut butter and lard in large bowl until smooth
Add flour and cornmeal in batches, stirring after every addition until thoroughly mixed
Slather onto pine cones, or tree bark for squirrels and birds to lap up. Pinecones can be rolled in a seed mixture and meal worms for extra protein