KUSA - Don't kick your tree to the curb. After removing the ornaments, take it outside and decorate it on your patio for the birds. Food is scarce this time of year, so you can give them a helping hand and enjoy watching them feed from the window.
Birdseed ornaments are easy to make and help teach kids the importance of birds in our gardens for pest control. The ingredients are easily found at the supermarket.
Pinecones coated in a peanut butter spread and rolled in birdseed are an after-Christmas tradition in many families. A relatively new idea is to create edible ornaments using unflavored gelatin and birdseed. Mix the two and press into cookie cutters, insert twine or ribbon for hanging before the gelatin sets up.
To help thwart squirrels, fill fine mesh bags with seed and hang them where squirrels can't get to them too easily. Use recycled plastic containers to hold nesting materials such as cotton, fabric scraps and dryer lint. Fasten these to a tree trunk or limb for easy access for the birds.
Birds also need open clean water in winter for both drinking and bathing. Clean your birdbath frequently. Fill it with warm water on cold days or consider getting an electric birdbath heater or prefabricated bird "spa."
After the Christmas tree has served its purpose as a feeding station, chop it up and use the boughs to cover and protect tender perennials or pansies. The needles will help trap snow and prevent wind damage. The boughs can also be cut up and composted, helping to keep your garden healthy with nutritious compost.
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