Next week is when all the final preparations are made for all those wonderful meals we expect to enjoy on Christmas and the days that follow. I’m suggesting now is a good time to start accumulating the kinds of leftovers that songbirds will just love after the excitement of our own holiday season.
Set aside a good-size plastic container which can store stale fruitcake, crumbled cookies, shriveled cranberries, busted pinecones and that one handful of nuts at the bottom of the can after the party is over. These tidbits make wonderful treats for your bird buddies at a time when the access to food in the frozen snow covered outside might be limited. Store the treats with no cover so they dry out.
After New Year’s, set up the old dried-out Christmas tree outdoors and get the kids to string cranberries and popcorn into edible garlands for snacking. Apples and oranges that are a bit past their prime are also good choices. Cut them in slices and string them with a needle and thread. The Christmas tree will serve as shelter for the birds as well as a fancy feeding station.
Old pinecones slathered in cheap peanut butter and rolled in birdseed make tasty treats for our fine-feathered friends. To keep things tidy, remember to tie on the attaching ribbon before you add the peanut butter.
The live berries from Christmas greens, including holly, juniper, bittersweet and rose hips, are a big treat for city birds. Layer the berry-covered greens atop a small pile of brush or tie bunches together and hang them from a tree or on a fence.
Old fruitcake makes a great snack for birds. Set it out on a feeder tray or tie it up with a ribbon in mesh feeder bags. Cookies and crackers are also appreciated.
Bacon grease is another treat that larger birds enjoy. After cooking the bacon, pour the liquid into an empty tuna can and place it in the refrigerator to harden. Before you fill the can with grease, punch a hole in the sidewall with a nail. When the grease has solidified, thread a piece of wire through the hole and make a loop for hanging.
When putting out birdseed, don’t forget to include crushed eggshells. The birds need calcium as much as we do. But the crushed shells also act as grit that help the birds digest their food.
In some ways suet is a more important addition to the bird’s lunch counter, promising instant energy in cold windy days. Having more than one suet holder and bird feeder will help to share the wealth of holiday treats.
Be sure to place your feeding stations in accessible locations. If you have to trudge through snow banks to make refills, you will soon lose interest and stop filling the feeders.