As the weather turns cold and snow starts to fall here in Eastern TN our backyard becomes a busy place for local bird species. We are huge fans of songbirds and offer up a bevy of treats and hideaways to help them endure these harsh winter months.
Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner is a wonderful introduction to several backyard birds. Cardinals, several woodpeckers, wrens, mourning doves, juncos, sparrows, blue jays, towhees, and even a red-winged blackbird have successfully been identified by the kids using this book.
Recently we placed our Christmas tree outside. The branches are wonderful places for birds to seek shelter from cold rain, ice, and snow. We also hang some of our smaller store bought and hand made feeders for them to enjoy.
Hanging Suet Ornaments
We recently came across a wonderful book full of recipes for songbirds called Cooking for the Birds by Adele Porter. My kids have really enjoyed pouring over the visually appealing assortment of bird friendly recipes and have enjoyed creating many of the projects in our kitchen.
Inspired by many of the recipes found in this book, we elected to try one of our own. We wanted a suet food that would provide extra energy to our feathered friends, but we also wanted to form it into Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree.
Using a recipe we found from Birds and Blooms for “Hanging Suet Cakes” we elected to use those ingredients to make Hanging Suet Ornaments.
What You’ll Need to Make Hanging Suet Ornaments
- 1 cup lard (We used Manteca brand from Target, but you can also find it on Amazon.)
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- mixing bowl and spoon
- cookie cutters (We used these stainless steel Christmas cookie cutters, which also included a heart.)
- non-stick spray
- parchment paper
- baking sheet
- pencil or toothpick
How to Make Hanging Suet Ornaments
Step By Step Directions
If baking with kids, be forewarned that filling the cutters is delightful fun, but can be messy!
Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until uniform.
Spray oven safe cooker cutters with non-stick spray and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Spray your hands with non-stick spray and press the mixture into cookie cutters.
Use a pencil or toothpick to create holes for hanging.
Hint: The dough will expand, so do not overfill the cookie cutters or they will be hard to remove after baking. Make the holes large and away from the edge. If the cutters are filled more than 1/2 to 3/4 full they may be too thick and break easily once removed.
If desired use a muffin tin with non-stick spray to create simpler ornaments from any remaining dough.
Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.
Hint: Insert a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean to confirm they’re done.
Remove the ornaments from the cutters and muffin tin.
Hang with thread.
Keeping It Real
The ornaments that were the most simplistic, snowflakes, bells, snowman, etc. faired the best when we attempted to remove them from the cutters. The remains of failed ornaments were gathered on a cookie sheet and we added them to a platform feeder. The muffin tin, “circular ornaments” had crispy edges and should have been removed a bit sooner, but were still completely usable.
Favorite Wild Bird Recipe Books
Cooking for the Birds by Adele Porter is a short book of easy to complete recipes to feed songbirds throughout the year. The kids and I have had a lot of fun experimenting with several of these recipes
For the Birds: Easy-to-Make Recipes for Your Feathered Friends is a spiral book (hurray, it stays open easily) to discover some new ways to make more interesting and nutritious snacks for the birds. We have even had some success making the recipes in this book to give as gifts to some of our bird loving neighbors and friends.
For the Birds: A Month-by-Month Guide to Attracting Birds to Your Backyard by Anne Schmauss is an excellent resource for learning how to attract specific songbird species to your yard throughout the year. This is a fantastic resource for beginner feeders looking to get more involved with bird watching and luring songbirds to their backyard.
Favorite Bird Picture Books
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray and Kenard Pak is our favorite introductory book to bird calls. Initially we got this book from the library the way we do most of our books, but it quickly found its way to a permanent place on our shelves. It’s a family favorite.
Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins is the best first book I’ve seen to discuss the different types of nests that birds make. The kids still talk about the amazing hummingbird using spider webs in their nest so that they can expand as the chicks grow. It’s just so cool!
Especially for Winter
Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner is our favorite introductory bird watching book. It’s packed with information and we often only cover a few pages a day or focus in on the pages featuring birds we are seeing in our backyard on any given day. The pictures are beautiful and the kids get so excited to learn more about the birds we are seeing in our own backyard.
A Bird In Winter: A Children’s Book Inspired by Peter Breugel by Stepane Girel and Helene Kerillis is a sweet story of a girl who finds and tends to an injured bird that she nurses back to health. Featuring a famous painting by Peter Breugel, the book also gives us a chance to appreciate and learn more about this famous Belgain painter.
Favorite Kid Bird Activity Books
As a family of bird lovers we are always on the lookout for ways to spend more time learning about and enjoying our feathered friends. The following activity books were fantastic ways to extend our interests in creative and artistic bird themed pursuits.
- Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds (Young Naturalists)
- Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music
- The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds
This post has been included in a new and exciting adventure: #TheNatureBookClub
A group of my favorite bloggers is gathering together every month to share book ideas and nature activities to encourage all of us to enjoy the outdoors!
Free Copy of Backyard Science
To celebrate the very first post of The Nature Book Club, The Homeschool Scientist is generously offering all of us the chance to download the ebook, “Backyard Science – Easy Activities For All Ages” absolutely free!
Visit The Homeschool Scientist to download your free copy!
Simply enter your first name and email and the ebook will be delivered right to your inbox.
Hurry! This offer is only good until 2/4/18!
Welcome to The Nature Book Club Monthly Link Up No 1.
The Nature Book Club is a monthly link up beginning on the 20th day of each month.
It’s a monthly book club devoted to connecting children to nature. There is a theme for each month in 2018. We welcome your nature book and activity related links!
January Nature Theme: Winter Bird and Nests
This month’s theme is winter birds and nests.The Nature Book Club is brought to you by these nature loving bloggers and your cohosts! Be sure to follow them.
Here are the bloggers, their choices of books, and activities for the month.
Something 2 Offer
Birds, Nests and Eggs – Winter Bird and Nest Scavenger Hunt
The Usual Mayhem
The Boy Who Drew Birds – Free Artist Study Set (John James Audubon)
Whose Nest Is This? – Nest Building Activity
Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
(Backyard Bird Series) Cardinals – Free Northern Cardinal Unit Study & Lapbook.
Rule This Roost
Fine Feathered Friends: All About Birds – DIY Bird Feeders
Hide The Chocolate
Those Darn Squirrels Fly South – Free Online Book Club
The Homeschool Scientist
Birds Nests and Eggs – Make a Suet Feeder
Snowy Owls – Snowy Old Craft
Table Life Blog
A Nest is Noisy – Art Project
WiRavens in Winter: Nature Study Activities and Lessons for Teens – Winter Bird ID
Wind in a Letterbox
Birds for Beginners in Southern Africa – Nature Journal Entry
Rainy Day Mum
Coming Home – Needle Felted Robin
Handbook of Nature Study
Backyard Birds Field Guide for Young Naturalist – Backyard Bird Nature Study
The Playful Scholar
Backyard Birds of Winter – How to Make Hanging Suet Ornaments
The Nature Book Club theme for February: Small Mammals
Easy Details to Remember
- Choose an engaging nature book, do a craft or activity, and add your post to our monthly link up.
- The link up party goes live at 9:00 a.m. EST on the 20th of each month and stays open until ____ .m. EST on the last day of the month. Hurry to add your links!
- You can link up to 3 posts. Please do not link up advertising posts, advertise other link up parties, your store, or non-related blog posts. They will be removed.
- By linking up with us, you agree for us to share your images and give you credit of course if we feature posts.That’s it! Let’s party