Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making a Birdseed Wreath

One of the things I like about God is that He's a birdwatcher. To my delight, a few years ago I learned that He even has swallows at home (Psalm 84:3). Growing up, I never considered Him the pet-owning type, but I can certainly understand why he might like birds.

I, too, have a certain fondness for feathered friends. I could watch them for hours at our feeders. There are so many little dramas that play out there -- courtships, rivalries, squabbles, kindnesses, intrigues, and even some rather sad, gruesome deaths. 

Certain birds, like the turkeys, return every year, and I enjoy observing changes in the flock. In fact, I quite look forward to seeing how much the babies have grown between spring and summer when I catch glimpses of them in the field and winter when they come scratching in my yard. Because they visit so regularly, I almost view these birds as an extension of our family. Maybe they're not like brothers or sisters, but they could be very distant cousins.

While we keep feeders up all winter, it feels natural to want to provide my avian guests with some more festive fare at Christmas. This year, the boys and I thought we'd try our hand at making a birdseed wreath.

First, we mixed birdseed in a bowl with just enough corn syrup to lightly cover all the seeds. Then we spooned it into a mold lined with wax paper and tamped it down thoroughly to compress any air pockets.

Ready for the oven

Next, I set my oven to its lowest setting (170 degrees F) and popped the wreath in for about 2 hours. The goal was to dehydrate and harden the syrup without cooking the seeds. 

After removing it from the oven, I let it cool completely, then turned it out onto a baking sheet. My mold was pretty deep, so the seeds at the bottom were still rather sticky. Undaunted, I just popped it back into the oven for another hour. This time, I didn't use the mold. I just left it on the baking sheet with the sticky side up.

After the wreath had completely cooled, we peeled off the wax paper and let it sit on the sheet for two days to make sure it was really dry and hard. (I turned it over after the first day so the top and bottom would harden evenly.) 

Finally, we added a pretty ribbon and hung it on a sturdy branch. Now, we just sit back and wait for takers.


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