This one is for the birds—literally.

You may think of wildlife as being African elephants and Antarctic penguins, but there’s wildlife all around you. How can you save the wild animals, like birds, foxes, butterflies, and turtles, that live in your neighborhood?

Become a backyard ranger and make your own yard more wildlife friendly! You can do this by creating habitats—places where butterflies find food, frogs seek shelter, nuthatches nest, or deer drink water.

Backyard wildlife

Backyard habitat illustration © Jada Fitch excerpted from the Wildlife Ranger Action Guide

Start small. Nothing brightens up tree branches like a collection of birdseed ornaments. You can smear nut butter on pinecones or toilet paper rolls and coat with wild birdseed, or thread oat cereal loops onto pipe cleaners. For an extra special treat, try making these homemade cookie cutter birdseed ornaments as featured in the Wildlife Ranger Action Guide. Your feathered friends will thank you!

Birdseed Ornaments

Birdseed ornaments © Tom Uhlman excerpted from the Wildlife Ranger Action Guide

What you will need:

  • Water
  • Microwaveable mixing bowl and spoon
  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons (35 mL) corn syrup, molasses, or honey
  • 2½ cups (600 mL)wild birdseed mix
  • Several large cookie cutters or molds
  • Scissors
  • Plastic drinking straws cut into short pieces
  • Yarn or string


  • Pour ½ cup (120 mL) cold water into the bowl. Add both packets of gelatin and stir. Heat ½ cup water in the microwave until boiling. Add it to the mixture and stir until all the gelatin dissolves.
Birdseed ornament mixture

Birdseed ornament mixture photo © Tom Uhlman excerpted from the Wildlife Ranger Action Guide

  • Add the sweetener and birdseed. Mix well. Set the bowl in the refrigerator to cool down for about 30 minutes.
  • When the mixture has firmed up, spoon it into the molds or cookie cutters. Press the mixture in firmly.
Birdseed cookie ornaments

Birdseed ornaments in progress photo © Tom Uhlman excerpted from the Wildlife Ranger Action Guide

  • Poke a straw into each mold to create a hole near the center. Let the birdseed ornaments set up overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Carefully pop the ornaments out of the molds and remove the straws. Thread yarn or string through the holes and tie to make loops. Hang them outside and see who comes to visit.
Birds with birdseed ornaments and cookies

Birdseed ornaments and cookies photo © Tom Uhlman excerpted from the Wildlife Ranger Action Guide

Once you’ve tried this, move on to more advanced wildlife rescue actions. The Wildlife Ranger Action Guide is jam-packed with projects and activities that help protect the animals around you.

And speaking of birds, pop over to Twitter and say hi to us @marykaycarson and @storeypub. We’d love to hear from you!


Mary Kay Carson

Mary Kay Carson is the author of Wildlife Ranger Action Guide. She has written more than 50 books for young people about wildlife, space, weather,… See Bio

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Wildlife Ranger Action Guide

by Mary Kay Carson

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