Give feathered friends a helping hand in the harsh winter months by decorating your trees with tasty, easy-to-make bird seed ornaments.
  • Family Friendly
  • Time & Effort
  • Supplies Needed
Snowman bird seed ornament hanging from twine in tree.
Who says it’s just our indoor trees that should be decorated for Christmas?!  Well, okay, we don’t actually say that!  But, when we’re thinking about decorating the trees in our gardens, why not think first and foremost about the wildlife that’s visiting. 

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

Here’s what you’ll need to make these bird seed decorations for your garden:

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)
  • oats
  • raisins

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

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.

Using Gelatin:

  • 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.

Cookie Cutters

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.

Twine

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.
  • Scissors.
Hands pushing bird seed mixture into gingerbread man mould on tray.

Patting Mixture Into Moulds

How To Make Bird Seed Ornaments

These outdoor decorations are so quick and easy to make and a fabulous way to decorate your tree and look after the wildlife on your doorstep at the same time.  The perfect winter activity!

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.

Mix together:

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.

Three bird seed ornaments on greaseproof paper on tray, all with their twine hanging loops and the cookie cutter moulds placed at the top of the photo. Two gingerbread people and one snowman.

Bird Seed Ornaments

Best Places to Hang Your Ornaments

Find a spot in your garden where you can easily observe the birds. Hang the ornaments at different heights to attract a variety of species. Ensure they are accessible to birds but safe from potential predators.  The RSPB recommends somewhere quiet, safe, and sheltered. 

You might like to hang them so there’s a perching branch nearby where birds can rest as they feed.

Snowman and gingerbread bird seed ornaments hanging from twine in tree with holly bush below.

Bird Seed Ornaments In Tree

Tips for Feeding Birds Safely

A few simple tips to ensure you’re feeding garden 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

This is the perfect winter activity to enjoy with the kids.  It’s easy and hands-on – the sensation of mixing the greasy lard with the crunchy bird seed makes for a great sensory experience.  There’s no dangerous equipment or hot ingredients.  Plus, it provides a great opportunity to talk with little ones about wildlife in our gardens and the importance of caring for our environment.

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

By creating these natural feeders, we’re not only providing essential nourishment to our garden birds during the challenging winter months, but we’re also promoting biodiversity in our back gardens.

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

Answers to common questions about bird seed ornaments. 

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

Here’s the detailed instructions with materials and step-by-step photos for how to create these bird seed ornaments.  Have fun!
Snowman bird seed ornament hanging from twine in tree.
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Bird Seed Ornaments

Give feathered friends a helping hand in the harsh winter months by decorating your trees with tasty, easy-to-make bird seed ornaments.
Prep Time10 minutes
Active Time20 minutes
Cooling Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 4 ornaments

Equipment

  • Cookie Cutters
  • large bowl
  • baking sheet or board
  • skewer
  • Scissors

Materials

  • 150g garden bird seed mix
  • 100g lard
  • string or twine
  • 1 paper straw
  • greaseproof paper

Instructions

  • 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).
    Hands mixing bird seed and softened lard in a bowl with plate of bird seed and tray of cookie cutters to side.
  • Pack the mixture into the cookie cutter moulds, pressing down firmly to fill any gaps.  Fill the cookie cutters to the top.
    Hands pushing bird seed mixture into gingerbread man mould on tray.
  • 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.
    Fingers pushing bird seed fat mixture back into position around paper straw in mould to hold straw 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.
    Hands pushing snowman bird seed cake out of cookie cutter mould with gingerbread bird seed ornament still in mould to top of photo.
  • 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.)
    Hands feeding twine through paper straw in a bird seed ornament with two gingerbread man ornaments on tray below.
  • Hang your ornaments on branches in your garden for the birds to enjoy.

Notes

  • 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.
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