A Fun Winter Activity to Attract the Birds
Feeding birds during the winter is one way to bring nature closer to your home. These birdseed ornaments will be a big hit with the winter birds who need extra calories to keep them warm. They’re also a great activity to do with kids. They can practice mixing and scooping and pouring. It’s a bit like cooking, but for the birds.
I opted to make mine out of just suet and birdseed, but I’ll give you some other suggestions later, as well. I usually save the hamburger grease when I fry hamburger and keep it in the freezer until it’s cold enough outside to make these. In fall and winter, we often eat a lot of venison so I know I won’t be getting any fat during that time.
Making the Birdseed Ornaments
Gather the following:
- suet (or saved hamburger grease)
- forms such as cookie cutters or silicon baking molds
- twine or string for hanging
First, we melted the fat and added birdseed until it was the right consistency. We started with two cups of fat, which was a lot more than we needed for the ornaments, so I made a suet ring with the extra birdseed mixture.
Then we scooped the mixture into silicon baking cups and cookie cutters. You might want to lay your string into the forms before you pour the mixture. We made holes later with pieces of straw. The silicon baking cups worked great, but the mixture was too runny at first and ran out of the cookie cutters. If you’re using cookie cutters, you can either wait until the mixture sets up just a bit, or you might want to try adding some peanut butter or cornmeal to make the mixture hold together better.
We placed sections of straw into the mixture to make holes to hang them with later. I didn’t take a photo when we were doing this, but here’s one from after they were set. If you decide to make holes, make sure they’re far enough in the middle of the ornaments, so they won’t break as soon as the birds start feeding. I think the heart one will last well. The star ornament looks like it will fall apart right away, and we actually ended up putting that one on the bird feeder. We made that one when the mixture was pretty warm yet, so a lot of the fat just ran out.
Then, we put them in the fridge to chill, but you could put them outside as well. After they were solid, we popped them out of the silicon forms. They came out easily and it was fun for my daughter to do. I had to run a knife around the edge of the metal cookie cutters, but they popped out without much trouble as well.
We added twine and hung them outside on a pine tree by the window.
It didn’t take long for the birds to find them. So far, we’ve attracted chickadees, tufted titmice, and nuthatches. In past years when we hung out suet rings, we’ve had woodpeckers, too, so I’m waiting for those to show up.
If you don’t have suet, here’s a gelatin birdseed ornament recipe you could try.
What kind of birds do you see in winter at your feeders?
For more winter nature activities, check out my Month in Nature Calendars. I include daily nature activities, crafts, art, and poetry for a whole year of nature fun.
Erin K. says
Would bacon grease be an okay substitute?
Yes, I think you could.
Love this recipe, as a person who loves seeing the birds and raises beef, it’s a great way to use the fat (suet) and not have it wasted. There are recipes to actually use it for human foods as well as making tallow if you have extra..