- Family Friendly
- Time & Effort
- Supplies Needed
Bird seed ornaments look cute, are so simple to make (honestly, they couldn’t be easier!), and provide a wonderful source of much needed nutrition for winged visitors in the depths of winter. It’s a triple win! So, what are you waiting for?!
What You’ll Need
Bird Seed Mix
We used a pre-made wild bird seed mix from the supermarket.
You may even find you have suitable ingredients at home to make your own. Birds love store cupboard ingredients such as:
- sunflower seeds
- peanuts (unsalted of course, and chopped up to avoid young chicks choking)
Do note that some bird-friendly foods are not good for household pets so be sure to check if you have a four-legged friend at home. For example, certainly don’t use raisins or other vine fruits as these are potentially poisonous to dogs and cats.
Lard is semi-solid white fat, rendered from pig fat. It is similar to tallow, which is fat derived from sheep or cows. It makes a great energy source for birds in winter months and works well to bind the bird seed together into ornament shapes. Lard is typically available in supermarkets or at your local butcher’s.
Alternatives to Lard
If you can’t get hold of lard, alternatives include gelatine (US: gelatin) and peanut butter.
- Gelatin is a great binding agent and creates solid shapes for making bird seed ornaments.
- It’s safe for birds but lacks the high-energy fats found in lard.
- Use unflavoured gelatin to avoid harmful additives.
Using Peanut Butter:
- Peanut butter is also safe for birds and provides more nutritional value than gelatin.
- It’s messier to work with and less likely to set as firmly as either gelatin or lard.
- Great for layering onto surfaces with bird seed (such as pine cones or apple slices) rather than being used to form intricate solid shaped ornaments.
Choose the shapes you’d like to create with your bird seed ornaments. We would suggest nothing too intricate to avoid sections which could break whilst making. Try not to choose very large cutters so that your ornaments aren’t too heavy either.
Tip: The cookie cutters we used were not particularly deep making it harder to keep the ornament together. If possible, use deeper cutters for a more sturdy creation.
You’ll want some string or twine with which to hang up your decorations. Twine works well and of course is a great eco-friendly option. If possible, collect the twine after the ornament has been eaten to avoid the loop getting tangled around an animal’s neck.
Other Items Required
You’ll also need:
- A bowl for mixing.
- Baking sheet or board lined with greaseproof parchment.
- A skewer.
How To Make Bird Seed Ornaments
Prepare your ingredients:
Allow the lard to soften to room temperature in a large bowl. Meanwhile, lay out the cookie cutters on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Add bird seed, little by little, to the lard and combine well by hand. Keep checking that the mixture is holding its shape well (err on the side of adding too little bird seed if need be). You’ll likely end up with a ratio of approximately one part lard to one and a half parts bird seed.
Fill the moulds & chill:
Pack the mixture into the cookie cutter moulds, pressing down firmly to remove any gaps. Fill the cookie cutters to the top. Use a skewer to make a small hole in the mixture towards the top of each shape. Push a piece of paper straw just longer than the depth of the cookie cutter into the hole.
Push the mixture around the straw back into position to ensure the straw is held firmly in place. Put the tray in the fridge for a couple of hours to cool and set.
Remove the ornaments:
Remove from the fridge and push the ornaments out of their cookie cutter moulds. Feed a piece of twine through each paper straw and tie the two ends together to create a hanging loop. (Use the skewer again if needed to clear the paper straw.)
Hang out for the birds:
Hang on branches in your garden for the birds to enjoy.
Best Places to Hang Your Ornaments
You might like to hang them so there’s a perching branch nearby where birds can rest as they feed.
Tips for Feeding Birds Safely
- Be sure to spread out the ornaments so that birds aren’t in too close contact – it’ll be easier for them to feed and avoids the risk of spreading disease.
- Only put out a few ornaments at a time and keep a close eye on them to avoid the food going off.
- Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling any feeders which birds have used.
Making Bird Seed Ornaments With Kids
Not only can they help make the feeders, but they can help identify visiting birds that come to eat there, and even keep a nature journal if they’d like.
And in January each year, you can use bird seed ornaments to attract winged friends to your garden for the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch. (Try setting up the ornaments a day or two in advance of your count as the birds may take some time to get used to them before feeding there.)
Environmental Benefits of Bird Seed Ornaments
Activities like this play a small but significant role in supporting our local ecosystem. It’s a wonderful way to connect with nature and contribute positively to the environment, teaching the younger generation the importance of ecological balance and wildlife care.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Bird Seed Ornaments Last?
Hopefully bird seed ornaments last as long as it takes for the birds to eat them! In rainy weather, they might deteriorate faster. It’s best to check and replace them as needed.
If, for whatever reason, these ornaments haven’t appealed to your local feathered friends, take them down after a week or so to avoid them going mouldy.
What Birds Are Attracted to These Bird Seed Fat Cakes?
Many garden birds like robins, sparrows, and blue tits love these ornaments. The type of seed you use can attract different species.
Are Bird Seed Ornaments Without Gelatin Effective?
Absolutely! While gelatin is a great binder, using lard or peanut butter is just as effective and, moreover, they provide essential fats for the birds during the harsher winter months.
Are Bird Seed Ornaments Safe for Birds?
Yes, when made with natural ingredients like lard, gelatin, or peanut butter, these ornaments are safe and nutritious for birds. Ensure that you keep a close eye on the ornaments and remove them before the food goes off.
How Else Can I Feed The Birds In My Garden?
There are all sorts of ideas for homemade bird feeders available online. Providing a water bath for the birds can be just as important too. Just remember to keep bird feeders and baths clean to avoid the spread of disease. We also love making apple bird feeders.
Homemade Bird Seed Ornaments Recipe
Bird Seed Ornaments
- Cookie Cutters
- large bowl
- baking sheet or board
- 150g garden bird seed mix
- 100g lard
- string or twine
- 1 paper straw
- greaseproof paper
- Allow the lard to soften to room temperature in a large bowl. Meanwhile, lay out the cookie cutters on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking sheet or board.
- Add bird seed, little by little, to the lard and combine well by hand. Use a ratio of approximately one part lard to one and a half parts bird seed but be sure that the mixture holds its shape well (do not add too much bird seed).
- Pack the mixture into the cookie cutter moulds, pressing down firmly to fill any gaps. Fill the cookie cutters to the top.
- Use a skewer to make a small hole in the mixture towards the top of each shape. Push a piece of paper straw just longer than the depth of the cookie cutter into the hole. Push the mixture around the straw back into position to ensure the straw is held firmly in place.
- Place the tray in the fridge for a couple of hours to cool and set.
- After at least two hours, remove from the fridge and push the ornaments out of their cookie cutter moulds.
- Feed a piece of twine through each paper straw and tie the two ends together to create a hanging loop. (Use the skewer again if needed to clear the paper straw.)
- Hang your ornaments on branches in your garden for the birds to enjoy.
- Number of ornaments is just an estimate as it will depend on size of cookie cutter moulds used.
- Tip: use deep cookie cutter moulds if at all possible to make the ornaments sturdier for hanging.
- Bird seed mix can be purchased already made or prepared from a mixture of store cupboard ingredients, depending on what species you are hoping to attract to your garden. Further guidance is provided above.
- Alternatives to lard such as gelatin or peanut butter can be used. Further details about the use of each of these are provided above.
Looking for more inspiration?
- How To Make DIY Apple Slice Bird Feeders
- Golden Rules For Decorating Your Front Door For Christmas
- Free Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt Games
And be sure to check out our 15 Ways To Get The Family Out On A Winter Walk for some pause and reset over the winter months.
Here’s what’s trending on the website right now.