Cookie Cutter Bird Seed Feeders {A Toddler-Friendly Method}

I must admit, I’ve seen many recipes like this one from Under the Sycamore floating around the internet, and I’ve been skeptical. Very skeptical, in fact.  I guess I was envisioning some sort of jello-y bird seedy concoction and I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that a hunk of seedy gelatine could last more than a few minutes (especially in the summertime) when tied to a string and hung from a tree.

But when Gracen woke up from her nap today and immediately announced “All done sleeping!  Nice nap.  Grae Grae wants to MAKE some ping!”, then suggested bird feeders, I decided we’d give it a shot.  I had two goals in mind – first, seeing if gelatine +  bird seed really does equal cool bird feeders, and second, figuring out a way of making them without having to have Grae stand at a hot stove to stir a pot of water.  

Cookie Cutter Bird Seed FeedersI’m happy to say, our experiment was a success.  Not only do we have trees sprinkled with pretty bird feeders (thus some very happy birds), but Gracen was able to do almost all of the steps on her own at our butcher block and there was no stove required.

IngredientsHere’s what we used for the project… Bird seed, gelatine, boiling water, straws cut into 2 inch pieces, some baker’s twine, and some cookie cutters and pancake moulds.

IMG 2276We started off by emptying two packets (not boxes – the above photo is misleading) of plain gelatine into a very large mixing bowl.

IMG 2277Then I carefully poured in a little bit of boiling water (this is one of the only jobs I did for the project).

IMG 2282Gracen then stirred the mixture very gently until all of the gelatine was dissolved.

IMG 2284Next, we measured out our bird seed.  We used a “wild bird” variety, but I think pretty much any type would work as long as the seeds and bits are not too big – I think a finer blend works best in this case.

IMG 2286Then Grae poured the bird seed into our gelatine/water mixture.

IMG 2292We stirred it for a few minutes, making sure that all of the seeds were evenly coated and that there was no longer excess water at the bottom of the bowl.

IMG 2294Next, we covered a tray in parchment paper and laid out our cookie cutters and moulds.

IMG 2295Using a teaspoon, Grae filled each cookie cutter with seed, one by one.

Here she is hard at work…

IMG 2299You want to make sure that they’re a little bit overfull, so be generous with the seed.  (This recipe made these five feeders, plus a large bird seed “cupcake” too).

IMG 2305Because the mixture gets really sticky, we covered the cookie cutters with a layer of parchment and Grae pressed the seeds down into the moulds.

IMG 2306You want to make sure the seeds are packed very tightly – it’s part of what makes the feeders stay together well.

IMG 2309Next, we took our straws and carefully inserted them into the cookie cutters, making sure to not place them too close to the edges.  Once the straws were in the seed, we pressed the seeds down around them to make sure everything stayed tight.

IMG 2314Next, we popped the entire tray into the fridge and let them set for a couple of hours before taking them out and letting them dry out on the counter.  We left them for most of the evening, and before I went to bed for the night, I flipped them over so that the bottoms could dry out too. (It’s a bit awkward to flip them with the straw sticking out the way it is, but you could trim the straw if you liked.)

IMG 2319The next morning, we gently popped the shapes out of their moulds.

IMG 2321Then we plucked out the straws and made sure that the holes were clear all the way through.

IMG 2323For the last step, we took some baker’s twine (ribbon or jute would be perfect too), put it through the holes, and knotted the tops.  Voila!  Pretty little feeders for the hungry birds in our yard.

IMG 2336

Cookie Cutter Bird Seed Feeders (a toddler-friendly method)

Adapted very slightly from this recipe

  • 2/3 cup of boiling water
  • 2 packets of gelatine (a box has 4)
  • 2 cups of bird seed 
  • parchment or wax paper
  • cookie cutters or silicone moulds
  • straws cut into 2 inch pieces

Pour the water into a very large mixing bowl.  Add two packages of gelatine and stir until it’s fully dissolved.  Add the bird seed and mix well until everything is evenly coated.

Place cookie cutters/moulds onto a parchment-lined tray and scoop seed mixture in until heaping full.  Place another piece of parchment on top of the cookie cutters and press down firmly to pack in all of the seeds.  Remove the top parchment layer and gently poke straw pieces all the way through the seed shapes (be sure not to put them too close to the edges).  Pop the tray into the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the feeders to set.

Later on, remove the tray from the fridge and let sit on the counter to dry out.  Flip the cookie cutters over a few hours later to let the bottoms dry out too.  Let sit for at least 3 – 4 more hours (overnight is best) until the feeders are completely dry.

Gently remove the seed shapes from the moulds (they should be fully dry and hard to the touch at this point – if not, allow to dry longer).  Carefully remove the straws and tie a twine loop through the holes.  Hang in a tree. 



62 thoughts on “Cookie Cutter Bird Seed Feeders {A Toddler-Friendly Method}

  1. Hey Peggy! I sure can – each envelope is 7 grams (which is apparently approximately a tablespoon), so you’ll need 14 grams all together. I’m glad to report that our yard has been filled with busy little birds happily munching away and the feeders are all still in tact and hanging well! You’ll have to let me know how it goes if you try it out. :)

    1. thank you so much! I will let you know for sure. I might even post it on my blog and link to your blog here! :) we always have birds here. in summer they drink water from our dogs water bowls outside and they also bath in it. so for winter, I’d love to supply some food for them in a nice interesting way :)

        1. Can these be made in advance and frozen or kept in refrigerator
          My grandson and I are making them ahead of the party?

  2. Can you tell me if they remain sticky after drying? I’d like to make these as wedding favors for our lovebird themed wedding, but need a recipe that won’t be sticky. I will probably set them on the tables in a little organza or even natural burlap bag. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kelly! No, they’re not at all sticky after drying. More than anything, they’re hard and crunchy, so you’d just have to make sure they didn’t get squished. :) They’d make a BEAUTIFUL favour and I love the idea of a burlap or muslin bag. Be sure to let me know how they turn out if you go for it.

    2. did you end up making these for your wedding???! i also want to but im not sure how far in advance i could make them or how to store them???

      thanks so much for any info

      1. Hi….did you ever get an answer or did you try this? How long did they last, do they need to be refrigerated? Thanks!

  3. Great, thanks!! I’m going to use burlap stamped with our initials. Now all I need to do is figure out the recipe to make 200 of these! Eep!

  4. Ok so my 4yr old & 2 1/2yr old made these with me just now. I was wondering though, i there supposed to be a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl after mixing in the bird seed? I added 1/2-1cup more seed to make it less watery. Otherwise this was funa nd easy for both my kids to help with. Thanks!

    1. Good question, Shannon! We had quite a bit of extra liquid in the bottom of the bowl too at first, but after stirring and mixing for a few minutes, it was soaked up by the seeds completely. I’m sure your method of adding extra seeds will work out just fine though! Let me know how they turn out. :)

    2. Hi ladies – Just wanted to add that my batch had extra liquid, too. I had borrowed exactly 2 C. of bird seed from my Mom, so couldn’t add more seed. After plenty of stirring, I decided to strain out the extra liquid in a plastic colander. I wasn’t sure if the decreased amt of gelatin would affect things, but happily it did not! My batch made 4 large-size bird feeders, and they all stuck together quite nicely. My 2 1/2 yr old and I have enjoyed watching the birds nibbling away.

    1. Hi La Tonia! Hmmm… I’m not sure as I’ve never tried it with soy butter before, but my guess is that the soy would not stick and harden like the gelatine does. Is there a reason you want to use something other than gelatine?

  5. Love this! I pinned it on Pinterest. Please forgive my dummy question: is this “plain” gelatine? is that how to look for it in the store? only familiar with Jell-O. i don’t think the birds are too interested in raspberry flavor. :-P

      1. Thanks! I actually found it at Target yesterday, right next to the Jell-O, etc. type products. I recognized the Knox brand from your photos. Can’t wait to do it!

  6. I can’t wait to try this. Two years ago my grandmother passed away and she loved birds. My daughter has inherited the love of birds from her and it helps her keep her memory alive for her. She will turn 10 at the end Apirl and will be having a bird themed party (NOT ANGRY BIRDS) These are perfect for the goody bags!!!

    1. Such a beautiful thing for your mother and daughter to share, Charity. <3 These will be PERFECT for your daughter's goody bags. I hope the two of you enjoy the project. :)

  7. what a cool idea!!. we have regular birdfeeders, but I think my daughter will love doing this. ( she is 2 1/2 so this is perfect. could you use wax paper instead of parchment thata already in my pantry :)

  8. i make bird feeders and sell them but the mesh i use is 1/4 x 1/4 holes so bird seed just falls through and some customers don’t want to use the small black oil seeds. so i would like to know how long these last if i make a big batch and shape to the wire mesh shape and bag it and sell with the feeder

  9. I live in Washington and as you can guess, it rains here a lot. Do you know if they will hold up in the wetter climate? Under tree branches, it’s not going to get really soaked unless there is a serious downpour, but there is still a lot of moisture in the air.

  10. So how long would these last stored in he cupboard? I noticed a few asked about how well they keep but never got an answer. Do they go rancid after a while?

  11. I am doing this as a class project for my son’s Christmas party. We have 30 kids who will be making the ornaments does anyone know about how much of the ingrediants I would need. I am using star shaped cookie cutters.

    1. I don’t think you would need more than 2 batches of this to make 30. Maybe 3 batches max depending on waste and the size of the cutter. Mine did start to mold after about a week fyi. (After they thawed. I’d frozen them for about 3 months for my wedding). Pressing hard is key to get them to stay together!

  12. I might try this with my 4th grade students. I know it says toddler but I think they would love this project, we have several trees outside our classroom. It would be fun to watch what birds might come to these awesome feeders! Just some logistics with the hot water but I’ll figure it out! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Has anyone made these? I see so many have asked how long do they last, does anyone have an answer for me? How long don’t hey last? Don’t hey need to be refrigerated? Would love to do this with my granddaughter today have her to it while we are packing to move. Any answers would be great full! Thanks!!

    1. Hi Dianne. We’ve made these many times. They last until the birds eat them. :D When they’re done, they’re crunchy – like a crisp cookie – not at all jelly-like, so no need to refrigerate. If you’re not going to hang them outside for the birds to enjoy right away, I assume that storing them in an air-tight container in the pantry would be just fine, though we’ve never stored ours (just my best guess!)

    2. We made these as Christmas gifts this year, had lots to do so made a couple of batches two weeks before Xmas and stored in an airtight box outside (thought the cold outside would be like storing in the fridge and keep them better)
      Had to bin them as they had gone damp and furry with mould and smelt terrible!
      Next few batches stored in fridge until bagged up and presented just to be on the safe side.

      1. Hey Kate! Oh, that’s frustrating. I personally would not put them in a container and would not put them in the fridge. They’re intended to dry like a super hard, crunchy cookie, so nothing special needed. I’d just leave them on a plate on the counter or in the pantry until you’re ready to hang or gift them. I feel like with the container / fridge, you may unintentionally be adding moisture that’s not needed. :)

  14. I’m going to be making these with the kiddies!! Just wondering how it holds up in summer? I’m in Australia, so the heat gets up to at least 35 degrees Celsius!! i just don’t want them to start “melting” hahaha

      1. I’ve made this twice and they’ve melted both times. Final result was the consistency of jello with bird seed stuck in, which would not support being hung by a string…

        1. Hi Amy! I’m sorry you’ve had troubles with these! We’ve made them numerous times and there’s never been an issue – even in super wet Vancouver springs. If you’re ever brave enough to try again, I’d really make sure that you have no excess liquid in the base of your bowl. Stir, stir, stir until ALL of the liquid is absorbed by the seeds, and if there still is excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl when you’ve stirred for a while, simply use the seeds and not the liquid. There should be no possibility of a jello-like consistency that way. <3

  15. How many feeders does this make? I am planning on doing this with my Grandson ‘s preschool class

  16. What a lovely project! I’m looking for a vegan alternative to gelatine–do you happen to know whether agar flakes be suitable for this project?

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