Monday, January 18, 2016

Birdseed Ornaments

I love birds.  They're my favorite animals.  We've been thinking a lot more about birds than usual in our house because the girls and I are studying Flying Creatures for science this year.  In order to study them better, we've been putting out bird treats to entice the many birds that live in and around our yard to come a bit closer- suet feeders, bird baths, etc.  So it just seemed natural to make birdseed ornaments as gifts for some of our loved ones this Christmas.

This is also a great winter craft to do with children that helps feed the birds once the ground is covered with snow.

There are many recipes out there, I was soon to discover, and I tried several before finding my favorite.  I like this recipe best because...

1) it only calls for two ingredients,
2) the "glue" holding the seed together dries clear and
3) the ornaments dry very hard so they do not easily crumble.

Please note some of my tips below- they will help make your birdseed-ornament-making go smoothly.

Birdseed Ornaments (to hang outside for the birds, recipe found here)
* This recipe makes six medium-sized ornaments.
* Even if you want to make more than that, do not double/triple the recipe- it will become too sticky to handle towards the end.  Make one batch at a time.
* Be very generous with the cooking spray.
* Allow several days for drying before packing up and gifting.

2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
2 cups birdseed

2/3 cups water
1 plastic drinking straw, snipped into 1 1/2-inch lengths
waxed paper, to cover cookie sheets and for packing
cooking spray
baker's twine or very thin ribbon

Place wax paper on a cookie sheet with your cookie cutters on top.  Generously spray the cookie cutters (and underneath them) with cooking spray.  Place two cups of birdseed in a large bowl and set aside.  Boil 2/3 cups water in a glass bowl in the microwave and then add the 2 tbsp. gelatin.  Stir until dissolved.  Pour the gelatin mixture over the bird seed and stir for just about a minute, allowing the birdseed to absorb the liquid but don't stir much longer than a minute- it's okay if some liquid is still at the bottom of the bowl.  Quickly fill the ornaments using a small spoon- pressing the birdseed into the corners and packing it in tightly with the spoon back.  Move fairly quickly and stir the seed each time before filling the next cookie cutter.  If some liquid seeps out the bottom- no worries.  It will gel and can easily be removed once dry.

Once the cutters are full, use a small piece of wax paper laid on top to pack it down further.  Insert a straw piece into each ornament not too close to an edge and press down to the cookie sheet.  Set the ornaments aside to dry for about 2-3 hours and then flip them over or onto their side.  A couple hours later, gently press the ornaments out of the cookie cutters and let them dry overnight on a wire rack if you have one.  Let them continue to dry until they are nice and hard.  Then, using baker's twine or ribbon, tie on long loops for hanging on branches.  Feeding the twine through the straw, then removing the straw before tying off, makes for an easier time.  Pack or wrap gently in wax paper and tie with more twine.

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  1. These are adorable little bird snacks! My kids would have great fun making some of these!

  2. I noticed today the new header on your blog. It is very nice. You must have changed it recently as I see the paper stars in there.

    The paper had an article today on the importance of supplementing the birds diets in winter. We buy suet blocks by the case whenever there is a good sale at the farm store. A heater for the bird bath is relatively cheap also as they still need a source of water. It's -10 F here today but bright and sunny.

    I'm going to print off the instruction portion of your post and leave it in the teacher's lounge. Possibly one of the elementary grade teachers would like to use it.


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