Everyone loves to feed the birds in winter.

(Learn about one of Iowa’s winter birds: Dark-eyed junco)

It helps the birds that are scavenging for food. It lets you get close to watch these fun, feathered friends. Bird watching is a good hobby to do from the warmth of your house on chilly days.

You can always fill your feeders with regular bird seed, but you can also turn making bird feeders into an activity itself.

(Tell finches apart at your feeder)

A great way to make bird feeders with the kids is to make bird seed ornaments to hang outside.

Photo of women working on bird seed ornaments

Naturalists prepare bird seed ornaments for a program.

You’ll need:

4 cups of bird seed mix
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 envelope dry gelatin
3 Tbsp. corn syrup
12 cookie cutters
Cooking spray
6 plastic straws, cut in half
Parchment paper
12 pieces of ribbon or twine, cut in 8-inch lengths
Optional: 1 cup shortening, 1/2 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries

Begin by mixing the bird seed and flour together in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, microwave the water for 30 seconds and mix in the envelope of gelatin. Stir until dissolved, and then stir in the corn syrup.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Photo of bird seed mixture

Spray your cookie cutters with cooking spray and set them on parchment paper. Fill the cookie cutters with the seed mixture and press down.

Place a straw near the top of each mold to create a hole that will be used to thread ribbon through to hang your bird seed ornament.

Photo of spoon pressing down on bird seed

Let your ornament dry at least 2 hours, or until completely dry. Remove the ornament from the cookie cutter; remove the straw, and put ribbon through the hole left by the straw. Knot the ribbon to make a loop.

If you would like to make your ornament even more appealing, spread shortening on top of one side of the ornament and dot with dried fruit.

Photo of a child dotting ornament with fruit

Place ornament on a tree near your window so you can see the birds enjoy the treat!

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