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Weekend Project: Decorate a Tree for the Birds

A tree full of treats attracts winged ones and helps them survive winter.

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During winter, birds get by with a little help from their friends, if you festoon a tree with tasty treats.

Enlist the kids to help with this fun and easy project, and then make it an annual ritual. You'll help the birds survive by setting out food for them. They'll reward you with their lively presence.

Trim an evergreen tree, if possible, to give birds shelter as well as sustenance. Birds will savor any of the following edible ornaments. Follow our directions for making several simple treats, and then tie the bird-friendly decorations to tree branches using strands of raffia.

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Orange Cups: Cut oranges in half; scoop out fruit. Make a handle for each cup by poking a small hole, one half inch from the rim on opposite sides. Push one end of an 8-inch-long ribbon into each hole; secure with a knot. Fill cups with birdseed or suet cakes.

Bread Cookies: Using bread heels or day-old loaves, press a cookie cutter into a bread slice to make a fun shape. Make a hanger of raffia strung through a small hole in the cookie. Hang stale donuts, bagels, or rice cakes the same way.

Stuffed Pinecones: Melt 1 part peanut butter with 1 part lard (straight peanut butter is too hard for birds to swallow). Roll 2-inch-long (or larger) pinecones in this "frosting," and then roll in birdseed before the fat hardens. Set on a cookie sheet to dry. Tie a raffia or ribbon hanger to the top of each cone.

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