The first one I tried was basically an adaptation to the pine cone ornament. I suppose this would be good if you live in an area that doesn't have a lot of pine cones accessible to you.
- Paper towel or toilet paper rolls cut into 2 inch rounds
- Peanut butter
These are easy to do. Just take the paper towel/toilet paper roll section and tie the yarn around it so you can hang it in the tree.
Then cover the cardboard part in peanut butter and roll it in birdseed. Done. Did I mention this one was easy?
These disappeared rather quickly which I blame entirely on the squirrels. I'll need to make some more to see how they fare with the birds. I'm assuming that any of the ground feeding birds would have taken an interest in them.
The second idea was one that my grandmother used to do. It's also really easy to do as long as you have something small to use a a mold.
- A small mold (I used a mini bunt pan that my daughters play with in their play kitchen)
- Bacon grease
For this ornament I poured the birdseed into a small metal mini bunt pan from my daughters play kitchen. If you don't have one of those I would suggest trying to find something with a hole in the middle as it will make it easier to put a piece of yarn on it to hang it on the tree.
Birdseed in mini bundt pan
Bacon grease added
After you pour in the grease you just put it in your freezer to harden. In a couple of hours you just run the back of the mold under some warm water and the ornament will slide right out. Once removed from the mold you just tie a piece of yarn to it and hang it on the tree.
There are a couple of things I saw about making this type of ornament that I feel it is important to pass along. It is suggested that when making this type of bird feeder that you only use shelled sunflower seeds. The reason for this is because the birds will spend time cracking open the sunflower seeds to get at the meat inside. When they do this they will get bacon grease all over their faces. Mites are attracted to the grease and as a result the birds can get mites which is both annoying to the birds but can also be fatal. So be kind to your birds and only use shelled sunflower seeds. You can substitute lard or suet for the bacon grease. Just NEVER use vegetable shortening!!! The birds can't digest that stuff. Apparently suet is preferred by bluebirds so you can keep that in mind if you are trying to attract them. From what I have read lard is the easiest for birds to digest. Which is why I used it in the following recipe that I made up.
The last thing I have done out on the tree is to come up with a solution for the popcorn garland problem. The problem being that the mockingbird which frequents the tree loves them and has demolished them in a matter of days, but they take HOURS to make. So I knew I wanted to use the popcorn but in an easier different kind of way. I thought I'd try out a new idea...popcorn balls.
- Cupcake pan
- Cupcake liners
- 3/4 cup lard
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 tsp. cold water
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup birdseed
- 5 quarts popcorn
I adapted this as far as ratio amounts are concerned from a popcorn recipe for people. But when I made it I halved it and still got over 20 popcorn balls. You can freeze any of the balls that you aren't ready to hang on the tree.
- Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. This is a change I made after the fact because I had a heck of a time coaxing those little suckers out of the cupcake pans. My husband suggested the liners and I think it's a brilliant time saving idea. Thanks Babe :)
- Pop the popcorn. Remember, don't use any microwave popcorn. The birds don't metabolize salt well so have mercy on their tiny little kidneys and pop your own without using salt. Once popcorn is popped place it in a large bowl, toss it with the raisins and birdseed and set to the side. You can use any combination of things here. I threw in some pepitas I had lying around, as well as a small handful of sunflower seed hearts leftover from some granola I had made instead of using birdseed.
- In a small saucepan combine the lard, peanut butter, and water. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and pour mixture over popcorn.
- Stir to combine well. You really want to make sure that the popcorn has soaked up as much of the lard mixture as possible.
- Once popcorn is well coated put it in the cupcake liners. Then pack it down with your hands. I mean really smoosh it. You want to make sure that when the lard mixture hardens that it has something next to it to harden onto.
- Once your liners are filled place the cupcake pan in the freezer of refrigerator.
- Wait a few hours.
- Remove the popcorn balls from the liners, tie yarn around them, and hang them on your tree.
The popcorn/lard mixture
In the cupcake pans
Finished and on the tree!
These were much easier to make compared to the garlands. Also I got to add in some extras that the mockingbird wasn't getting before. The mockingbird also loves them, which is a plus. I have made sure to place them towards the top of the tree since that is where the mockingbird prefers to feed. I've learned that it isn't about making the tree look all pretty how an indoor tree would look, but rather catering to the feeding habits of the birds that are visiting. These ornaments are also really inexpensive to make. And now that I have lard in the refrigerator I'm thinking it's time to pull out some of those frozen blackberries from the summer for a nice blackberry pie. I've heard that lard makes the best pie crust.
So now I've caught you up to where we are with our little Christmas tree. I have a few more ideas that I will be trying out and then letting you know how they worked. We're excited to see if any new visitors show up as the weather changes.