A decorative way to feed the birds
The weather may be getting cooler and the landscape quieter, but that doesn’t mean your garden’s interest is finished for the year. Birds eat from shrubs and trees with berries still hanging on, adding beauty, movement and color as they visit. Attract more, and keep them in your yard longer, by building a pretty bird-feeding obelisk covered in other important energy sources, just like you see here.
Start with a good base for your bird-feeding obelisk
To create this buffet, I used a metal garden obelisk, a handful of items from a local craft and hobby store and a few market finds. The obelisk makes a good base because it’s easily portable, which works well when you first set it out in your yard and birds become familiar with its presence, and this one even fit into a garden container for added height.
If you need to, you can move it around every few days to find the location that gets the most bird visitors. The obelisk may eventually freeze into the ground, but that actually helps anchor it in the spot you settle on, securing it in place for the rest of the season. If you don’t live in an area with cold winters, though, you can bury the obelisk’s legs, depending on its height, or use stakes to hold it in place. And while an obelisk provides a good landing surface for a variety of birds, the design of the ornament naturally deters house sparrows — they don’t like to feed surrounded by a lot of objects.
How to assemble a bird-feeding obelisk
As long as you use fresh birdseed and fruit, there’s really no wrong way to put together a tower that will attract and feed birds for the rest of the season. Follow along with these steps for the foundation of your ornament, but feel free to try different seedheads or fruit!
- Garden obelisk or other structure to use as a base
- Floral foam
- Floral wire
- Terra-cotta saucer
- Wood floral picks
- Birdseed wreath (premolded)
- Cut seedheads of broomcorn, foxtail millet and/or ornamental millet
- Evergreen branches
- Fruit, such as apples, oranges and cranberries
- Peanut butter
- Lotus pods
Step 1: Add floral foam
Start by inserting a piece of floral foam — the kind used for dried arrangements, which you can find at any florist or craft store — inside the point of your obelisk. For my 4-foot-tall obelisk, I used half of a 3×4×8-inch block. This will be hidden away when you stick in stems and other pieces of wood or wire later on, so you want to make sure it’s secure. I fixed my block of floral foam by weaving floral wire around the obelisk’s legs underneath it, creating a platform, just like you see here.
Step 2: Add a saucer
I used this same wiring method to attach a terra-cotta saucer to the bottom of the obelisk. This catches seeds from above, and you can even fill it with birdseed to attract ground-feeding birds, such as juncos and mourning doves.
Step 3: Prep the wreath
A premolded birdseed wreath — common at bird-feeding supply stores around the holidays — is a convenient way to provide a consistent supply of seed in cold weather. Simply slip it into the included mesh bag, which helps hold the seed to the form, and put the whole thing over the obelisk’s point.
Step 4: Add seedheads for the birds
Once the wreath’s on, poke bird-favorite seedheads, such as broomcorn, foxtail millet and ornamental millet, into all sides of the floral foam. If these plants don’t grow in your garden, it’s easy to find fresh branches at the farmers market. Sticking in a few evergreen branches from your own garden such as this Colorado spruce and creeping juniper, adds even more winter interest and gives your visitors a little shelter while they peck at the buffet.
Step 5: Don't forget to add fruit!
To offer the most variety, pierce orange halves and apple wedges, as well. Secure the orange by sticking bent floral wire into the skin and through the fruit, like you see above left. Wood floral picks will hold pieces of apple in place. To add vibrant color, and even more fruit, when you fill lotus pods with cranberries. To brighten the rest of the obelisk, I strung cranberries on a length of wire, just as you would a garland, and wrapped it around the obelisk’s legs like you see above.
Step 6: Add a pinecone treat
For a high-energy offering, smear pinecones with peanut butter and then roll them in birdseed. The pinecones I used were already attached to a wood pick — you can find them this way at a craft and hobby store. Just be sure to choose the natural pinecones, without the glossy varnish coating. If you want to attach your own pinecones to a wood pick or twig, use wire to bind the two, or use hot glue.
Step 8: Add to your garden & invite the birds!
Your finished bird-feeding obelisk will have striking interest anywhere in the yard — even when birds aren’t perched and feeding from the birdseed, seedheads, fruit, peanut butter or berries. Now just carry it outside and enjoy the show!