How to Decorate an Outdoor Tree with Treats for Wildlife

by Josée

Decorating an outdoor tree with healthy treats for local wildlife is a wonderful winter tradition that gives back to nature. It’s a tradition that my children look forward to every winter. We often decorate a tree close to the Winter Solstice or Christmas Day but occasionally we adorn a tree in January or February when food for wildlife becomes quite scarce and winter weather harsh. Preparing to decorate a tree for wildlife is a multi-day process in our home. We start by making homemade bird seed ornaments, then weaving popcorn-cranberry garlands and finally tying together fresh fruit and veggie bundles. Some years we don’t get around to making all these things, and that’s alright too. This tradition doesn’t need to be complicated.

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Healthy Treats for Wildlife

When deciding what to hang on your outdoor tree, it’s important to choose healthy treats for wildlife that lives in your area. We typically decorate our tree with birds in mind and add a few things for the local deer too. Deer enjoy things like carrots and apples, but these treats are like candy for them so we only add a few things for them.

Here is a list of healthy treats for birds and other wildlife:

  • Dehydrated fruit slices hung on a string (apples, oranges, pear)
  • Fresh fruit and veggies hung on a string (apples, pears, berries, watermelon, grapes, oranges, banana and carrots)
  • Homemade bird seed ornaments or suet cakes
  • Pinecone or orange birdfeeders
  • Popcorn and cranberry garland

What NOT to feed birds and other wildlife:

  • Raw meat
  • Bread and cookies
  • Potato chips
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Table scraps
  • Moldy or rancid bird seeds

Tips for Decorating an Outdoor Tree

  • Choose a tree on your property or somewhere in nature that is easy to access.
  • Always be respectful of any local park rules when decorating a tree that is not on your property.
  • Hang treats using materials that are 100% compostable (avoid string or yarn made out of synthetic material, instead opts for 100% cotton, wool, twine or other nature materials that will decompose over time)
  • Make sure to revisit the tree regularly and pick up any food that goes uneaten, falls to the ground or becomes spoiled.

Read the Night Tree by Eve Bunting

I like to incorporate story telling into our seasonal nature activities, and The Night Tree by Eve Bunting is the perfect story to share for decorating an outdoor tree for wildlife. I’ve included a quick summary of the book below.

Night Tree by Eve Bunting

On the eve of Christmas, a young boy and his family go into the quiet woods to decorate their favourite evergreen tree with popcorn chains, apples, tangerines, pressed millet and honey and sunflower-seed balls. The tree is a gift for the forest animals. A touching story about the true spirit of Christmas.

I hope that you enjoyed this quick how-to for decorating a tree for wildlife. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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1 comment

Suzanne January 17, 2024 - 8:08 pm

This looks so good! What fun activities to do with kids!


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