December 27, 2010
T’was the day after Christmas and all across the land millions of Christmas trees were… well, being dumped. Wait! Your tree brought your family enjoyment throughout the holiday season, and it can continue to be a point of interest near your bird feeders. Used Christmas trees provide the birds with excellent shelter from winter winds and wily predators. Rather than send the tree off to the landfill or shredder, why not “plant” it in the yard and continue to enjoy the tree–and the birds attracted to it–throughout the winter? In snowy areas of the north, your used fir or spruce can simply be propped-up in a snow bank. In warmer areas, plant the tree in a small hole or tie it to a deciduous tree. Enterprising bird watchers may want to gather a few used Christmas trees from the neighborhood and create a tepee by leaning multiple trees together and using some rope to tie the tops in a bunch.
In addition to offering food, providing adequate shelter is the best way to attract more birds to your yard. Evergreen trees and shrubs, like Christmas trees, provide dense cover even after the needles fall off. Birds are guaranteed to make use of recycled trees, just be sure to remove all tinsel and other decorations. Next year, consider purchasing a live Christmas tree and planting it after the holidays and creating long-lasting shelter for the birds. My family’s old live Christmas trees are planted in a grove and are used by nesting Chipping Sparrows and American Robins every summer–a lasting legacy from Christmases long past.
– David Bonter, Project FeederWatch