How to Make Bird Seed Ornaments

A bird seed ornament strung with red ribbon hangs from a tree branch
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The holiday season is here, and you need some fun Christmas crafts to make with the kids. Look no further than this easy bird seed ornaments tutorial.

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As gardeners, most of us have a deep love of all things nature—and that includes a fondness for our feathered friends. While the garden is quiet, take some of your free time to make these easy bird seed ornaments to give your local songbirds a treat! They are adorable, easy to make, and the birds adore them.

These ornaments would make a great holiday craft to do with kids and watching your local wild birds enjoy the birdseed is a gift on its own! Let’s get crafting.

Close up view on a homemade birdseed ornament

Do birds like bird seed ornaments?

There are many recipes out there for birdseed ornaments, so we made sure to really dive into what is (and what isn’t!) safe for our feathered friends, and all the ingredients in our ornaments are completely safe for wild birds. That makes these ornaments a win for birds everywhere!

To make sure the birds in your area will enjoy your ornaments, we do have a few extra tips:

  • Choose a bird seed that attracts the wild birds in your area—more on that below.
  • Make sure to hang your ornaments where birds have a nearby perch to land on. They work great in bushy evergreen trees. In a pinch, you can place the ornaments into suet cages for easy dining for the birds!

Two round discs of bird seed hang from red ribbon

What bird seed attracts the most birds?

Sunflower seeds are a go-to that attracts a wide variety of birds, but what exactly you include in your birdseed mixture all depends on what kinds of birds frequent your backyard!

  • Sunflower Seeds—Most seed-loving birds enjoy black oil sunflower seeds, but we recommend using hulled sunflower seeds because the smaller pieces will stick together better in these particular ornaments.
  • Safflower Seeds—Chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, finches, and woodpeckers will eat safflower seeds. If you are concerned about squirrels getting into your birdseed ornaments, use safflower—they tend to leave those seeds alone!
  • Peanuts—Peanuts offer valuable fat and protein to birds. Big pieces of peanuts can make it hard for the ornaments to hold together, so we recommend either leaving them out, or chopping them up first.
  • Millet—Finches, sparrows, juncos, thrushes, and cardinals enjoy millet. There are several types of millet that are suitable for birds, but look for white proso millet if you can find it.
  • Dried fruit—While not a nut or seed, lots of backyard birds enjoy fruit as a part of their diet, so consider adding raisins, dried cranberries, or dried currants to your mix. Be sure to get plain dried fruit, and avoid any that are sweetened. Bluebirds, robins, mockingbirds, and cardinals will enjoy these fruits. A word of warning: too much dried fruit can make it tricky for the ornaments to hold together, so go light on it.

Of course, if you want to keep things simple, you could always purchase a pre-mixed birdseed that is made for the kinds of birds in your backyard. In our tests, birdseed mixes that were mostly small seeds worked best. Find them at your local hardware store or superstore, or find them online from places like Duncraft.

A round disc of pressed bird food hangs from a tree

What should you not feed birds?

Chocolate is toxic to birds, just like it is to dogs or cats. Also avoid foods with added salt or sugar, as well as bread.

How do you get bird seed to stick together?

For these bird seed ornaments, we rely on a paste made of unflavored gelatin and cornmeal to hold the birdseed together.

Though there are many recipes that call for corn syrup, our research showed that sweeteners like corn syrup can be unsafe for birds, so we left it out here, and it still sticks together just fine!

Two round ornaments hang from red ribbon from an evergreen tree

How to make homemade bird seed ornaments

These ornaments are a great craft to make this Christmas season with the kids! Here’s how you do it:

How to make bird seed ornaments, with numbered steps

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and arrange metal cookie cutters or canning rings on top.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water, and let it rest for two minutes so that the gelatin “blooms.”
  3. Pour boiling water into the bloomed gelatin, whisking well.
  4. Add cornmeal to the gelatin, and stir well to create a “paste.”
  5. Add in the bird seed, stirring well so that all the birdseed gets coated with gelatin and cornmeal paste.
  6. Pack the birdseed mixture into each cookie cutter, pressing down with the back of a spoon.
  7. Use a straw to poke holes in the top of each ornament. This will allow you to thread them with twine or string later for hanging.
  8. Refrigerate for several hours. Set the baking sheet on the counter for 5-10 minutes, and then remove the cookie cutters. Add string or twine, and tie a knot to make a loop for hanging.

How long do homemade bird seed ornaments last?

How long these ornaments will last depends a lot on the weather in your area. In cold areas without much precipitation, these ornaments will last months (or as long as it takes for the birds to eat them). As the weather warms or it becomes more rainy, the ornaments tend to break apart within a few days. We had great luck with these ornaments in fair weather between 50–70°F for over two weeks (that’s about how long it took for our birds to finish them off).

Growfully Protip

For the longest life (and happiest birds), we recommend hanging these ornaments in a sheltered place that protects them from the sun and precipitation.

A bird seed ornament strung with red ribbon hangs from a tree branch

How to Make Bird Seed Ornaments

Yield: 6-10 ornaments, depending on the size of the cookie cutters used
Active Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

The holiday season is here, and you need some fun Christmas crafts to make with the kids. Look no further than this easy birdseed ornaments tutorial.

Materials

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 packet) unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 2 cup birdseed (see notes for seed recommendations)

Tools

  • Metal cookie cutters or canning rings
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
  • Spoon
  • Straws
  • Ribbon

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread out cookie cutters on top of the parchment, and set aside.
  2. Add the cold water to a medium-size mixing bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over top in an even layer, and then let it sit for 2 minutes to “bloom.”
  3. Add in the boiling water, and whisk well until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  4. Add in the cornmeal and bird seed, making sure to stir to coat all the pieces of birdseed.
  5. Fill each cookie cutter with enough birdseed to make a thick ornament—making sure to really pack in the birdseed. You might want to use the back of a spoon to make sure there are no air bubbles or empty spots.
  6. Using a straw, make holes in the top of the ornaments as a place to hang the ornaments later.
  7. Place the cookie tray in the refrigerator for a few hours so the gelatin can set.
  8. Once gelatin is set, remove the cookie sheet and allow to warm for 5-10 minutes on the counter. Remove the cookie cutters, and string.

Notes

  • If you don’t want to use cookie cutters, metal canning lid rings work great!
  • In our tests, small seeded bird seed blends (like millet, buckwheat, and flax) tend to hold better than blends that contain large chunks like sunflower seeds, peanuts, or dried fruit. If your birds love sunflower seeds (ours do!), a great option is to look for “no mess/no waste” bird seed, which has the sunflower seeds already hulled—which makes it much easier for these cakes to hold together.
  • We had surprisingly good results with these cakes lasting in all kinds of weather. They do tend to fall apart the warmer it is, so we recommend keeping them in a shady spot and making them a winter craft.
  • Make sure to hang your bird seed ornaments from a tree branch that has other branches nearby so birds have a safe place to land and perch while they enjoy their snack.


 

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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