Food Gifts for Your Backyard Wildlife

In this season of giving, we want to remember our backyard wildlife friends, too!

Itís easy and fun to make pretty food treats that will keep your furred and feathered neighbors happy throughout the holidays.

Many of these ideas are a snap to make, and children love getting involved. When my son was little, he had a blast filling an orange rind with peanut butter and seeds and hanging it on a pine branch just outside our window. When he saw a chickadee actually pecking at it, he was thrilled! And it was the most exciting thing in the world to see a family of squirrels come right up onto our deck to eat the Native American corn he put out as a love-offering. Now, even though he is a teen (and we know how important being cool is to teens), he still has a warm fondness for squirrels and birds.

When we create thoughtful gifts for wildlife, we deepen our connection with the animal world and create some heart-warming memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some great ideas to get you and your family started:

1. Cut festive shapes from cardboard, punch a hole in the top, spread shape with peanut butter, sprinkle with birdseed, and hang from a branch. Or frost with Bird Pudding (see below).

2. Ears of Native American corn left over from your Thanksgiving door decorations are a favorite food for squirrels. Hang an ear from a branch and place an ear on the ground nearby. Squirrels love a challenge, and itís fun to see how cleverly they manage to get to the hanging food. If you really want to get fancy, try making little cabins from ears of corn mortared together with peanut butter and roofed with cardboard slathered with peanut butter and seeds or bird pudding. See how long it takes one enterprising squirrel to demolish the house! The birds will help to eat the leftovers.

3. After juicing oranges or grapefruit, fill the hollow shells with peanut butter and birdseed (or Bird Pudding) and place jewel-like cranberries around the rim.

4. Smear pinecones with peanut butter or Bird Pudding and roll in birdseed, then hang from a branch.

5. Bird Pudding
1 pound lard (or leftover cooking fat)
4 cups wild birdseed
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup hot water
1 cup flour

Heat lard in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until softened, then add remaining ingredients and mix well. Use to slather on pinecones or cardboard shapes, or to fill citrus shell bowls. You may also smear this great stuff directly onto the branches of a tree.

6. Use your leftover holiday tree as a feeding station: Set it upright outdoors where it can be seen from your windows, and garland it with popcorn and cranberry strings. Forage for local shrubs and plants that have edible seed-pods or berries and place a few sprigs in the branches. Stale cookies and doughnuts may be hung like edible ornaments, and you can add any of the ideas above, too!

You will create a sumptuous buffet for your wildlife and give your family hours of pleasure as they watch the animals enjoying their holiday gifts.

For more ideas, see foods birds like and
eight steps for attracting birds.

By Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother (Inner Traditions, 1995). Copyright (c) 1995 by Cait Johnson. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
By Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother (Inner Traditions, 1995).


Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Mark Tarrant
Past Member 5 years ago

Lard in fat-balls with seeds.

tanya w.
Tanya W5 years ago

Tried to sign Ria's petition to save the wild geese of Netherlands but it was closed. Hope Ria's wishes were acheived.

tanya w.
Tanya W5 years ago

Thanks for your information.

Debra Griffin
Missy G5 years ago

Good to know

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Great ideas - thanks for posting.

Sa R.
Sa R5 years ago

learning from your article as well as from experienced members' comments. TY

KARLOLINA G6 years ago

WOW- Bird pudding. Great idea. Thanks.

I have a bird sanctuary. I planted raspberry bushes in it. I keep 2 birdbaths for them. I have taken some fallen branches and stuck them in the ground in different spots to act as perches. I hold back on the seed in the nice weather and begin feeding regular in the late fall. In early spring I try to make sure to plant many black oil sunflowers, the canarys love them. I plant many other flowers in it as well. The sanctuary also has a trumpet vine, which the hummingbirds love.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Leslie F.
Leslie Filer7 years ago

Is lard good for birds???........mmmmm