Feed Birds with Homemade Birdseed Ornaments

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Making homemade birdseed ornaments is a great project that is fun, kid-friendly, inexpensive, and it feeds birds such as cardinals, finches and grosbeaks. As if that wasn’t enough, making homemade birdseed ornaments results in great gifts that are fun to give during the holiday season.

Birdseed ornaments and wreaths fit the “bill” on all counts. (Did you see how I snuck that pun in?) Feeding songbirds is a great way for us to interact with nature. Plus, homemade bird seed ornaments help birds get through the tough months of autumn and winter. That’s when available food is scarce, and wild birds need all the help they can get.

bird seed ornaments hanging in a tree
Bird seed ornaments hanging in a tree, just waiting to be nibbled on by hungry birds.

Studies show that consistent bird feeding produces significantly earlier egg laying dates, larger clutches of eggs, and higher chick weights across a wide range of bird species. Feeding birds is not only good for the birds, it makes bird lovers happy.

Here’s how I create homemade birdseed ornaments for my bird friends—and for my people friends, too.

 

Here’s what you need for Homemade Birdseed Ornaments

You know those cookie cutters that only get used once a year for holiday cookie baking? Now you can use them to make festive forms that you can hang up from nearby shrubs and trees. Once hung up, birds swoop in and I enjoy the show.

cookie cutters used for making homemade birdseed ornaments
Lay out your cookie cutters on foil and spray before filling.

This project has been so successful, that I “branched out” (pun alert!) into using other molds, such as my seldom-used Bundt pan and gelatin molds. These work great for bird wreaths and other fun bird-feeding shapes.

Second-hand stores are great sources to find super-cheap vintage gelatin, muffin, or custard molds. You can also Buy Them on Amazon. Small springform pans are perfect for this project. Be sure to spray the metal forms with a cooking spray for easy unmolding.

A wide variety of different kinds of molds and pans can be used for homemade birdseed ornaments and treats.
A wide variety of different kinds of molds and pans can be used for homemade birdseed ornaments and treats.

Starting with a general bird seed mix of millet, sunflowers, and cracked corn, I embellish it with dried fruit, meal worms, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. One of my wreaths even contained fresh cranberries dropped into the mold before packing in the bird seed. If you use fresh fruit in the mixture, set out your creations as soon as they dry enough to hang safely. Otherwise, the fruit can rot.

Large birdseed wreath can be set flat in a platform bird feeder
This large birdseed wreath set out on a platform bird feeder might be the ultimate gift for a flock of birds.

 

Recipe for Bird Seed Ornaments

  • ½ C Water
  • 2 one-ounce Packages of Unflavored Gelatin
  • 3 T Light Corn Syrup
  • 4 C Mixed Bird Seed of Millet, Sunflower Seeds, Meal Worms, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds (Use a quality mix)
  • 3/4 C Flour
  • Cooking spray
Supplies and ingredients needed to make homemade birdseed ornaments and treats.
Supplies and ingredients needed to make homemade birdseed ornaments and treats.

 

Making Homemade Birdseed Ornaments

1. Spray your cookie cutters and other forms with non-stick spray and place on parchment paper or foil.

2. Place water into a large pot on stovetop and turn on low heat.

3. Empty both envelopes of gelatin into water and stir to get rid of lumps.

4. Add corn syrup to mixture in pot and stir until clear and smooth. Don’t boil.

5. Turn heat off and dump in the bird seed along with the flour and mix quickly, thoroughly coating all the bird seed, scraping pot sides to incorporate all the liquid.

Press down bird seed mixture firmly into the molds with a spoon.
Press down bird seed mixture firmly into the molds with a spoon.

6. Once mixture is gummy in texture, wet your hands. Then use your wet hands to scrape the bird seed ornaments mixture into forms and pack it tightly into your shapes. This step is like making sticky rice crispy treats, and it is easier to do when the mixture is still warm. Pack the seed mixture tightly into corners and crevices.

7. While the mixture is still pliable and warm, press string, yarn or raffia into the center of the bird seed for hanging. For my wreath, I tied the string around the entire form after drying for better strength. You can also stick a dowel or skewer into the form to make a hole to string up later.

Dowels stuck through the birdseed ornament creates a hole for hanging
Dowels stuck through the birdseed ornament creates a hole for hanging.

8. Air dry for several hours (sometime up to a full day) and the forms are ready to unmold.

9. Carefully remove the bird seed cookie from the mold. Air dry for an additional day or two to harden.

NOTE: Do not double this recipe. I made two separate batches to make 5-6 ornaments plus several smaller wreaths and forms.

 

Storing and Gift Giving

Sometimes larger wreaths can be very fragile, so I lay these flat in my bird feeder tray for the birds to feast on. Bring the wreaths in if rain is threatening. (Otherwise, they will disintegrate quickly in the rain.)

Store the ornaments in tissue paper in a box that lets air in. If you store in an airtight container, the bird seed can turn moldy.

birdseed ornaments make a wonderful gift
A collection of birdseed ornaments makes a wonderful gift during the holidays–or any time of year.

For gifting to my favorite bird lovers, I pack the bird seed ornaments attractively using baskets, tissue paper, and ribbon. Dried bay leaves, holly sprigs, cinnamon sticks, and canella berries add color and fragrance to the gift basket for a festive presentation.

In January, I recycle the top of my fresh-cut Christmas tree and place it in a stand. Then I hang these homemade bird seed ornaments, along with millet sprays and orange slices, to make a bird tree. The birds absolutely love it—and I love watching them!

bird tree with ornaments, millet sprays and oranges
This outdoor potted evergreen tree is decorated with bird seed ornaments, millet sprays and oranges.

 

Want to make something tasty that you can eat? Try making an Easy-to-Bake Lemon Tangelo Meringue Pie.

 

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