Once I had a big box filled with goodies, I carefully decorated the Blue spruce and the Oriental spruce in the waning afternoon sun. As I took pictures of my crafts, I drooled at the thought of how cool it was going to be to take pictures the next morning of the birds having breakfast in the Christmas trees!
What I found the next morning was nothing short of hilarious. The trees had been completely stripped of their treasures, with a few dejected strings left hanging on the boughs. A lone pinecone, picked clean of seeds, still clung to a low branch. The hemp twine used to suspend the bagel halves were draped limply around the tree tops.
Alas, no birds were merrily dining on a gourmet breakfast. My guess is that somewhere, a raccoon family was sleeping off a very good night!
Trailhead, I too was uncertain about the peanut butter. I struggled with the “everybody does it” theory. (I also meant to note that after putting out all the treats, I added a large, clean dog food dish filled to the brim with fresh water beneath the tree closest to the thicket).
With regards to the peanut butter, perhaps this will help:
Source: 101 Ways to Help Birds by Laura Erickson
© 2006 Stackpole Books
Chapter 12: Bird Food Recommendations, page. 148
“No. 47: Offer peanut butter and nuts
Peanut butter is nutritious and has a high energy content, so it is often a component of bluebird mixes. The easiest way to offer it is smeared into the crevices of tree bark or stuffed into the holes of hanging log feeders. […] In his book A Complete Guide to Bird Feeding, John V. Dennis reports cases of birds choking on peanut butter. Because of its sticky texture, it can gum up their mouths, so mix peanut butter with a generous amount of cornmeal to make it grittier.”
There are lots more ideas available in Erickson’s 101 Ways to Help Birds - I highly recommend it! I first learned about her book through a review at Bootstrap Analysis: book review: 101 ways to help birds.