For the Birds – Recycled Christmas Tree

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!

Recycled Christmas tree for the birds

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.

Decorating supplies

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. 

Bird Seed wreath

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.

Molded bird seed ornaments

Decorating Your Tree

Start by inserting the trunk of your tree into a pot of soil

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.

Cody zeroed in on the bark buttered pinecones

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!

Watch out for low hanging pinecones and dogs

I bought millet sprays online to get a bunch of them, but you can buy them in smaller quantities at pet stores.

Tie the millet sprays together with wire or ribbon and wire to the tree branches

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)
  • Feathers
  • Plant fluff or down (e.g. cattail fluff, cottonwood down)
  • Moss
  • 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

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb Lard
  • 1 C Peanut Butter, Creamy or Smooth
  • 4 C Cornmeal
  • 1 C Flour

Instructions

  1. Mix together peanut butter and lard in large bowl until smooth

  2. Add flour and cornmeal in batches, stirring after every addition until thoroughly mixed

  3. 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

I added bark buttered pinecones in all my containers for birds to feast on
Pinecones in an outdoor arrangement

10 Replies to “For the Birds – Recycled Christmas Tree”

  1. This is a great idea but I also have a big hairy four=legged bird. My dog really enjoyed the treats. I either need a taller Christmas tree or a smaller dog:)

  2. Hello,
    I love your idea to repurpose your Christmas tree for the birds, I will definitely give that a try after next Christmas.
    I had quite an education yesterday morning.
    I live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and yesterday it was sunny but FREEZING outside.
    I love feeding the birds but hate it when the hawks pay a visit to my feeders….,..but this morning things were different. I noticed a large hawk on my front lawn eating something ……so I grabbed my binoculars and discovered that this hawk was not feasting on a bird but enjoying a breakfast of earth worms! This hawk was there eating for close to an hour! I had no idea they ate earthworms!
    I am guessing that as the sun warms the earth the worms move closer to the surface to warm their bodies and the hawk waits till he sees the soil move and then snags the worm! Who knew!
    I love observing nature! Always something new! 🙂

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