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Create an Edible Christmas Tree for the Birds

Updated on November 28, 2011
grandmapearl profile image

At a very young age Connie learned from her Grandma Pearl to observe and love backyard birds. She stills feeds and studies them everyday.

It’s easy and fun to include our backyard bird friends in the holiday festivities by creating a tree full of special treats just for them. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does take a small commitment of time. This would be a great family activity. You might even start a new family tradition, while making your winter backyard bird gang very happy!

Edible Tree For Birds
Edible Tree For Birds | Source


Choosing a tree that is near other shrubs or trees will give the birds an escape route, as well as a place to perch while eating their holiday treats. If you decide to use orange and/or grapefruit halves, the weather should be relatively cool (under 40 degrees) so that the fruit cups will not mold before the contents are eaten.


What You Will Need

A tree that is near other shrubs or trees

22 gauge wire (Hobby or Craft store) and needle nose pliers/wire cutters

Small nail for making holes

Small aluminum dishes approx. 4-½” diameter

Larger aluminum pie plate for rolling pinecones

Dried cranberries, apples, apricots, raisins or other dried fruit

Oranges and grapefruits cut in half

Whole peanuts in the shell, either salted or unsalted

Shelled peanuts, either salted or unsalted

Dried pinecones (directions under Pinecone Section)

Peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

Spatula

Sunflower bird seed

Popped popcorn

Red yarn for securing dishes, fruit cups and pinecones to branches

Scissors to cut yarn

Waxed paper


Make the Aluminum "Baskets"

What you will need for making small aluminum baskets
What you will need for making small aluminum baskets | Source

Begin by using the wire cutters to cut the wire into pieces approx. 10“ long for the pinecones and fruit cups, and 12“ long for the small aluminum pans. With the nail, pierce a hole in one side of a small aluminum pan about ½” below the rim. Then make another hole directly across from the first one. Since it may take several days for your edible tree to be discovered, it is a good idea to make 3 or 4 drainage holes in the bottom of the pan with the small nail. That way any rain or snow will not spoil the contents!


Finished and filled!
Finished and filled! | Source

Push one end of the 12” long wire through the hole from the inside to the outside of the dish, leaving enough wire to twist several times in order to secure one side of the handle. Repeat with the other side using the needle nose pliers to bend each wire end downward. This ensures neither the birds nor you will be harmed by the sharp wire end. Fill each little pan with an assortment of dried fruit, popcorn, peanuts and sunflower seeds. Be careful not to fill it too full or it will tip and spill when it is hung on your tree. Tie yarn to the handle so that it can be secured to a tree branch when you are ready to hang your ornaments.


Fruit "Basket"

grapefruit half filled with raisins, peanuts and sunflower seeds
grapefruit half filled with raisins, peanuts and sunflower seeds | Source

Making the Fruit "Baskets"

Next, scoop out the orange and grapefruit halves. It’s okay if you leave some of the fruit inside. Save the scooped out fruit and refrigerate. You can use it for a fruit salad of your own! Use the end of the 10” wire to pierce the fruit half on either side. Pull the wire through the hole on one side of the fruit half to make a handle, just as you did with the small aluminum dishes. Don’t forget to make 2 or 3 holes in the bottom of the fruit cup for drainage.


Now make a mixture of peanut butter, raisins and birdseed, and fill the fruit halves. Cut a length of red yarn and tie to the handle of the basket. You will use this to secure your treat dishes to the tree branches. Hang these individual fruit “baskets” on different tree branches for the birds to enjoy.


Pine Cones

To dry pinecones: lay pinecones out in a single layer on several thicknesses of newspaper; let air dry naturally for 3 or 4 days. This should dry the sap, making it easier to work with the pine cones.

Wrap a 10” piece of wire around and under the top layer of pine cone scales leaving a long enough piece to make a loop for hanging. Twist the wire together and bend the ends over so they will not hurt you or the birds. Then lay out a piece of waxed paper on a flat work surface. Pour birdseed into a shallow aluminum dish and set it on the waxed paper. Spread peanut butter onto a pinecone with a spatula working over the waxed paper to catch any dollops that might fall off.


Next, roll the peanut butter pinecone in the birdseed, gently shaking off the excess. Cut a length of yarn and tie it around the top of the wire handle. You will use this to secure the ornaments to the tree when you are ready to hang them.


What you will need for Pinecone ornament

Source
wired pine cone with peanut butter, rolling in sunflower seeds
wired pine cone with peanut butter, rolling in sunflower seeds | Source
Finished Pine Cone
Finished Pine Cone | Source

If you wish, you can add raisins, craisins or dried cranberries to the bird seed for the pine cones. Or you can pierce the dried fruit pieces with wire to hang individually, or to make garlands or wreaths. Use your imagination and see if you can create different edible ornaments to hang on your holiday bird tree!

A tree full of treats like this will attract birds like chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals and juncos. This is a fun and easy way to get kids involved in learning about feeding and identifying birds. They can note which ones show up at their tree, as well as what they prefer to eat.

Be Patient! Birds are naturally curious, especially chickadees. It may take several days or more, but ‘if you build it, they will come!‘ By the way, if you can choose a tree that is easily seen from within your house, you will have a ringside seat to a holiday show courtesy of You and Mother Nature!

Snowy background would have helped show off the decorations!
Snowy background would have helped show off the decorations! | Source

The Chickadees Found My Tree!

Chickadees seem to like the pine cones a lot!  See if you can spot the two chickadees in this photo. (Hint:  one is upside down and one is looking straight ahead)
Chickadees seem to like the pine cones a lot! See if you can spot the two chickadees in this photo. (Hint: one is upside down and one is looking straight ahead) | Source

Comments

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    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi Billy! Wow, I am so glad you enjoyed these ideas. I found that using two wire handles worked the best for my birds, though. I criss-crossed them so that they would be more stable. Enjoy this fun project with Bev, and thanks so much for your very supportive and much-appreciated comments. You have made my day, my friend! Thanks also for the share--that's awesome. Pearl

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh my goodness, I love this idea. I am sharing this with Bev and we are going to do this in the next few days. What a great idea! Sharing on Facebook! I have read forty hubs today and this is easily the best!

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi Suziecat! Thank you for the great comment, and for clicking through to my website. You've made my whole day! When I read that you used to make bird houses, I perked right up. I'm always interested in crafts people that love the birds and nature like I do. So glad you stopped by!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I just love this idea. The problem for me is other wildlife like raccoons, bears and other hungry critters. They do make a mess. Great Hub. Rated up and I'm a fan. I'm going to check out your website too.

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Thank you Dale for your great comments. I hope you have fun with this idea. It has been such a different winter than most, but I still like to help my backyard birds along. The squirrels continue helping themselves as well. They especially like the peanut butter pine cones! Thank you for the votes and for helping the wild creatures, too!

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 

      6 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      What an awesome idea for the birds, Grandmapearl! It is wonderful to see that you have done this and this hub has inspired me to work along the same lines. I love to help those hungry creatures, especially during the hard and cold times. Well done, voted up, useful and interesting!

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Shea, I am excited for you and your son. I hope you create a great memory together with this idea. Thanks for the update. Keep me posted on your progress, okay?

      Mathair, Thanks for stopping by, and the great comments. I hope you and your children have fun with this. Just today there was a squirrel checking out the pine cones, but he took off before I could get a picture!

    • mathair profile image

      mathair 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      What a fun idea! I think I will try this with my children.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      6 years ago from new jersey

      My son read this hub today and is so excited! We're going to the craft store tomorrow.

      8-)

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Instantly Family - so glad you stopped by! I love that your son is interested in making the pine cones. They are a lot of fun to do. Thanks so much for the great comments.

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi Shea, thanks for the great comments. I really enjoyed creating this hub!

    • instantlyfamily profile image

      instantlyfamily 

      6 years ago

      What a great hub! My 8 year old son is going to love making the peanut butter, sunflower seed pine cone. They are all really neat. Thanks for sharing.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      6 years ago from new jersey

      What a great hub... I hope everyone reads it!

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