These sweet little birdseed ornaments are easy to make, and are a fun holiday project with kids! Give them as festive gifts for the birds, or put them right on the Christmas tree!
Originally published March 2019. Updated Sept. 2021.
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Of all the many articles I read in 2019, the one that stuck with me the most detailed an unnerving statistic. In the last 50 years, bird populations across the US and Canada have plummeted by 29%.
I'd had the vague feeling over the last few years that "I don't see as many birds as I used to." How little I knew how right my instincts were! I was never much of a bird feeder enthusiast, but the data from that article has quickly turned me into one.
Since starting to feed the birds in our backyard, it's been such a joy to see blue jays, chickadees, and little dark-eyed juncos starting to frequent the feeders. Watching those sweet little birds has become a peaceful part of my morning routine that I didn't know was missing.
In our house, pets (of course) always get Christmas gifts, and with the backyard birds now taking up "pet status" in my heart, I've been wanting to make them a festive treat for the holiday season.
So last week, the kids and I made them a batch of adorable little suet feeders, molded to look like Christmas cookies. We had so much fun making them, it was really the highlight of our week!
There are quite a few recipes on Pinterest for "birdseed ornaments", but most of them rely on gelatin and corn syrup to hold their shape.
Especially given the already alarming state of the bird populations, feeding them an unhealthy and unnatural substance like corn syrup just feels wrong, and our fickle New England weather dictates something stronger than jello for anything meant to hang outside for some time.
So for this recipe we use nothing more than the classic combination of suet (tallow) and birdseed.
Even if you have to render your own suet, that's so quick and easy it can be done right along with this project, and it still won't take long, or add much to your kitchen cleanup. You can read how to render suet here - it's easy, I promise!
Aside from the birdseed and suet, the only other things needed to make these little suet feeders are cookie cutters, a towel, plastic wrap, and a straw, or toothpick.
Handmade Suet Feeder Birdseed Ornaments
- Open-topped cookie cutters
- small towel
- plastic wrap
- paper or plastic straw
- 5 ounces tallow (rendered suet)
- 6 ounces birdseed (a "songbird" style mix with smaller seeds works well!)
- Melt the rendered tallow (suet) over low heat.
- Once the suet is melted, remove from heat and add the birdseed, mixing thoroughly.
- Let the mixture rest while you lay out your cookie cutters.
- Place a towel down on your work table. Over the towel, lay a sheet of plastic wrap.
- Place cookie cutters on the plastic wrap, and press them down just lightly to help the edges meet the cusioned plastic wrap. (This is what will help keep from losing suet mixture out from under the edges of the cookie cutters.)
- Cut a plastic or paper straw into 2" lengths. You're going to place these where you want a hole left in your ornament, for hanging.
- Once the birdseed mixture has cooled just enough to start being a bit opaque near the edges, it's the perfect temperature for working with.
- Working one ornament at a time, use one hand to vertically place and hold the section of straw where you want the hanging hole in the finished ornament. With the other, use a spoon to fill the ornament with birdseed mixture, being careful to get it into every corner. I find that filling a cookie cutter about 3/4 of the way full works best.
- Continue working until all of the birdseed mixture is used. Allow ornaments to fully cool. Once set, they can be transferred to the fridge or freezer to finish hardening before removing from the cookie cutters.
- Once ornaments are hard and cool, gently press them out of the cookie cutter, using gentle pressure from the top. Then carefully remove the piece of straw. Use ribbon or twine to make a hanging loop for the ornaments, and then they're ready for the birds!