Although Ohio winters can be quite long and dreary, one of the highlights for me is my backyard bird-feeding station. Winter birds with their colorful, cheerful presence can brighten even the most gray, snowy day. A few years ago I tried something new with my backyard feeding station that was a big hit with my birds, and increased my bird-watching enjoyment by leaps and bounds.
I have always enjoyed holiday decorating, but five years ago I lived in a small condo that didn‘t allow much room for a holiday tree. Rather than overstuff my tiny condo with a live Christmas tree, I thought it might be better to place a holiday evergreen outside on my deck where I could see it and enjoy it throughout the season. However, I wasn’t sure how the birds that regularly visit my feeders would respond to a holiday tree invading their familiar feeding area. Then I thought, why not make the holiday tree one that the birds can enjoy, too? So, this is what I did.
I set my tree on the deck in a sturdy tree stand and anchored it securely. Next, I added several strings of outdoor, all-weather lights. I purchased 20 teacups at a local thrift store for about $.25 each, and I filled them with a variety of birdseed. I attached the cups to the tree branches with craft wire, and I positioned each one on the tree so that it would be easily accessible for the birds, and easy for me to refill each day.
That particular year was unusual because we did not have any snow in northern Ohio until mid-January, so we experienced a very “green” and rainy holiday season. But even in the warm temperatures, the birds came, and eventually the snow arrived as well. The birds loved their new holiday feeder tree, and enjoyed feeding there from December through March, when I finally took it down.
An alternative idea: Move your holiday tree outside after the holidays are over and recycle it as a winter feeder tree! As you take down your holiday decorations, remove the ornaments from your tree and move the tree (with outdoor-safe lights) someplace outside. Then add the cups with seed, and you’ve got a nice, new feeder station for your winter birds! You could also create a feeder tree using an evergreen already growing in your yard, especially if there is a tree near a window where you can enjoy watching the birds from inside your house. You could also add other “seed”-type ornaments to your feeder tree, and there are many great ideas online for creating ornaments out of birdseed.
I hope you will consider adding a holiday feeder tree to your backyard feeder station this winter. You can certainly expand on this simple idea. Please email photos of your feeder tree to Watching Backyard Birds at email@example.com so we can share your ideas with our readers in a future issue!
About the Author
Wendy Clark is the president and publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a career communications specialist, and an avid birder. She has three children and two grandchildren, and lives in Marietta, Ohio.