For wildlife, winter can be the lean season

Winter is a tough time for many animals. Wildlife that rely on natural food sources such as seeds and berries may find themselves having a harder time finding a meal, as spring and summertime supplies grow leaner and leaner. In these cold and slim months, our resident birds in particular can benefit from a little human assistance.

Their need for supplemental nourishment partners well with the timing of the holiday season, since part of the fun of this time of year is preparing festive decorations and treats. Kids have time home from school, and what better indoor craft than making some wildlife-friendly ornaments to help our feathered friends?

There are a number of creative and unique options for crafting some nature-friendly decorations. A classically simple yet pretty arrangement is to fill pinecones with peanut butter and coat them in birdseed. Be aware of the size of the pinecone, as the larger ones (like longleaf pine cones) might use more supplies than you anticipate.

You can make birdseed ornaments using flour, water, birdseed and corn syrup. Mix those ingredients in a bowl, then pour it out into cookie cutters on waxed paper. Use a skewer to poke a hole for a string, remove the cookie cutter and let the ornament set overnight. Hang them in trees around your yard for birds and wildlife to enjoy.

You can make small birdseed bowls from orange peels. Simply cut an orange in half, remove the fruit from the peel, fill the shell with birdseed and hang with pretty holiday ribbon or raffia.

What’s a tree without a garland? String together popcorn, cranberry, nuts and dried fruit, and drape it on your favorite evergreen.

Those are only a few of the options for decorating live trees in your yard or local park with pretty and useful holiday ornaments that help wildlife.

As a bonus, if you put them out near your window or porch, you can sit with tea and holiday cookies and watch the birds benefit from your efforts. When they visit your trees and yard, those bright red cardinals, black and white chickadees and other birds can be living ornaments.

Crystal Cockman