Fun Activity: Edible Bird Decorations for Fall and Winter

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Feeding our feathered friends is a fun thing to do! It’s easy too!
Evergreen trees and bushes, the ones that don’t drop their leaves in the Fall, provide shelter and winter feeding for local birds. Use these ideas to put together some edible decorations in time for Christmas and the colder months here in the northern states.  

Quick DO’s and DON’TS:

  • Don’t use bread or baked goods; they provide no nutritional value and is the equivalent of “junk food” for birds. Moldy bread can also cause infections and disease.
  • Don’t use sugary, salty, or dried fruits and foods.
  • Do use fresh fruits, raw unsalted nuts, & seeds.

Simple, Homemade Bird Feeders

Pine cone Treat

Materials:

Peanut butter or shortening (beef suet, lard or non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening)

Birdseed

Small screw eye and/or yarn

Directions:

If pine cones are closed, put them on a cookie sheet in a low oven (300°) for 20-30 minutes until the heat opens them.

For hanging, insert screw eye into the flat end of a pine cone or simply wrap a loop of yarn around the cone.  Cover the cone with peanut butter (pb) or shortening.  Use a plastic knife to spread pb deep within the scales.  Roll the cone in birdseed; to get it within the pine cone.

Peanut Butter and Millet Roll

Materials:

Peanut butter

Millet seed or assorted birdseed

Yarn

 

Toilet paper tube

Directions:

Thread yarn through the cardboard tube.  Tie the ends of the yarn together to make a hanging loop.  Spread peanut butter over the tube and roll in millet (bird) seed.  This is attractive to finches, many sparrow species, and chickadees.

Orange Bowl

Materials:

Oranges with a thick rind

Knife and metal spoon

Skewer or awl

3 pieces of twine for each bowl, cut into 24 inch lengths

Birdseed

Directions:

With a sharp knife, cut the orange in half; scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  Using a skewer, pierce three holes around the cup of the rind, approximately 1/2” from the cut edge.  The holes should be evenly spaced around the rind’s circumference.  Thread a string through each hold, tying a knot inside the orange to hold the string in place.

Knot the strings together at the top to create a hanging loop, keeping all 3 strings the same length to support the orange and keep it level.  If you want to tie the feeder directly to a tree branch, keep the strings untied until you hang the feeder.  Repeat with the other half and remaining oranges.  Fill with birdseed.

According to the Audubon Society, these orange seed cups entice chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and purple and house finches.

Garlands

String garlands of unsalted popped popcorn, cranberries, unsalted peanuts still in the shell, apple slices, and orange segments to attract titmice, jays, and mockingbirds.   When using apples and oranges, make sure the pieces are nice and chunky!

Idea:  use thin cotton string or 100% cotton thread that are biodegradable and that the birds may use to build their nests in the Spring!

Another idea:  wrap-and-tie unsalted peanuts still in their shells along a long piece of cotton string to make a garland.  This can be easier for little or energetic hands that might not want to handle needles!

Wreaths

Millet seed stalks twisted into the shape of wreaths lure goldfinches and pine siskins.

Raffia and Twine Bows

Since genuine raffia (not plastic) and twine are derived from natural materials, they work great simply tied around tree bows for a decorative accent.  The birds may even use these for their nests in the Spring as well.

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

 Materials:

Small to medium sized pumpkin, up to 10 pounds

Small sticks

Twine or rope

Birdseed

Directions:

Here’s a quick tutorial on this cute feeder with perches too!

https://www.audubon.org/news/pumpkin-bird-feeder-makes-happy-harvest-birds

 

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half.
  2. Scoop out the seeds, leaving a hollow inside with 1/2-inch thick shell wall.
  3. Insert two sticks across the open pumpkin to create perches for the birds.
  4. Knot two lengths of rope together at the center and tack the knot to the bottom of the pumpkin feeder. Hang the other ends of the rope in your chosen feeder location.
  5. Fill with birdseed.

 

*Compiled by Julie Horney MS, OTR/L, Advanced Master Gardener.  References available upon request.

 

 

Video on Fall Prevention Strategies

Thank you to the American Occupational Therapy Association for this video on simple strategies for preventing falls around the home.  Falls are not a part of normal aging nor dealing with chronic illness.   Many simple strategies can help to prevent falls when they are caused by hazards in the living environment.

http://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Patients-Clients/Adults/Falls/prevent-falls-in-home-tips.aspx

User Safety

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t have exactly what we need to get a job done.  When the “job” is taking care of ourselves, we might easily substitute say, a household item, for a proper piece of durable medical equipment.  I understand this.

However when the “job” is taking care of a loved one, we need to be really careful.  Often when first posed with an accessibility or care need does the loved one want to inconvenience us or cost us extra time or money.  In doing so our loved one may overestimate his or her ability to help (e.g. reach something from the floor or take a shower after a medical procedure) posing a risk for injury to both of you!  Here are some examples.  See if any sound familiar to you?

CASE #1:  An item falls to the floor near a door where a person with low vision has just entered on a rainy day.  Oh dear.  The floor is wet but it is hard to see and the keys are lying right next to the puddle!  Rather than asking for help or even gently nudging the keys to another place next to a chair (or counter to support body weight and balance), he or she reaches down and risks slipping on the wet floor.  The dog or cat strolls by providing a bit of distraction, further affecting the ability to make a good decision as well.

CASE #2:  Mom is recovering from surgery and anxious to get back to work.  She prides herself in her independence and keeping her home nice for guests.  Adding any bathroom equipment would bring a “hospital” feel to the rest room that is also used by family when they visit.  How embarrassing!  So she has her son retrieve a 2-step, step ladder from the garage and place it inside the tub/shower to use as a shower chair instead of purchasing a shower chair and tub rail.  Both of the latter could be removed for guests, placed in storage when no longer needed, and even be taken with her when travelling.  Oh well.  The step ladder has sharp edges from that project cleaning the gutters last Fall and ends up scratching her leg when using it as a shower chair.  Mom uses the towel rack as a “light hand hold” for about 2 weeks, eventually loosening the wall anchors and posing a grave risk for falls should it come loose sometime getting into or out of the tub/shower.

CASE #3:  Brother is quite independent during the daytime now, maneuvering his wheelchair and going to the bathroom independently since recovering from a serious stroke awhile back.  He likes to surf the internet when home alone but has no cell phone or land line available to him until evening when the family returns.  One morning he wakes up to the smell of natural gas and realizes he has no easy way to get out of the double-front door on his own or call for help.

As you can determine from these examples posed by everyday activities, there are simple solutions to these problems when we prepare ahead of time for them!  In my Living Safely Program presentations I would divide the topic into 3 areas:  Medical Conditions, Slips-and-Trips, and Behavior.  In Case #1, every effort must be made to dry ones footwear when entering the home in addition to minimizing glare from lighting or sunshine on smooth flooring surfaces.  The latter makes it nearly impossible to see water on the floor.  In Case #2, we need to provide the right equipment for the right task, check it often, and offer to help with the softer concerns (such as appearances) when necessary.  In both Cases #2 & 3, we need to problem-solve scenarios with our loved ones in advance and include them in coming up with the best solutions.  Emergency contact systems are now available that look more like a “Fitbit” for kids than a wrist-operated medical alert button; an emergency-only cell phone is quite inexpensive to own and operate these days.

fit-bit

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We could chat at length about other considerations in each of these situations.  Feel free to comment your suggestions and experiences below.  I would love to hear from you!

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Take care,

Julie, O.T.