Many of us love to watch birds fly to bird feeders by the windows and hop around, chirping at other birds and grabbing seeds to eat. Watch them long enough and you can start telling them apart by physical and personal characteristics. Before long, you'll give each of them a name and wonder where they are if they don't show up. The winter season is a great time to give a helping hand to our feathered friends by decorating trees by our windows with special edible treats so they can get past winter's harsh times.
Decorating Your Tree for Birds
Keep birds happy and well fed all year long by hanging assorted bird feeders in trees on lower level branches. During winter, birds have a harder time finding food, so be especially creative in providing food. Clean and paint your wooden bird feeders and add little painted decorations to make them cheery. Stay away from steel and bare wire feeders as birds can get their feet frozen to cold steel. Choose bird feed for the types of birds flying around in your part of the country. Hang feeders high enough from the ground to keep birds safe from predators, but use a long rope or chain to make it hard for squirrels to get into the feeders. Provide them with their own peanut-in-a-shell stash somewhere else.2
Prepare added treats that you can create with kids. This project becomes more enjoyable as they learn to appreciate wildlife and caring for the birds. Find pine cones laying around in your area or purchase them from a craft store. Add peanut butter to the inside of the cones, add a little birdseed for enticement, and then string each cone to a tree branch. Be sure to redo these as needed as birds will visit them often. Make it easy to remove the strings from the tree by adding a small lobster-claw fixture on the end of the string and wrapping the strings around the branch, and then opening and closing the claw and hook in the string as needed.3
Use a needle with an eye large enough to thread the string through, and make decorative strands of dried berries, popcorn, raisins and other dried fruits. Make the strand heavy enough so that it doesn't float around in the wind but not so heavy that it sags. Again, use the same type of lobster claw hardware at each end of the string. Other types of whimsical items to thread are donut chunks, slices of fresh fruit, peanuts in their shells, and anything else edible your birds might like. Hang as many pine cones and suet balls as you can, using bright ribbons instead of strings.4
Create wreaths using fir boughs and add on your pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed, attached dried berries and nuts, and any other foods easy for the birds to pick off with their beaks. Hang those from tree branches and make sure they are attached securely. Keep hanging items high enough from roaming deer that want to get in on the action. Replenish your decorations as often as possible to provide your bird menagerie a constant source of food and good health.