How to Recycle Pumpkins for Birds and Wildlife

Repurpose your leftover Halloween pumpkins to benefit backyard wildlife such as birds, butterflies, deer and more.

squirrel eating pumpkinCourtesy Katherine Plessner/Country magazine
A squirrel snacks on a pumpkin.

Halloween is approaching, so there’s a good chance you have a pumpkin or two around your house. They make great fall decorations, but once the carving and trick-or-treating is over, don’t just toss them in the trash. There are lots of great ways to use pumpkins to benefit wildlife in the weeks ahead.

Share Pumpkin Seeds with Birds

Many people roast and eat pumpkin seeds themselves, but you can also share them with birds. Larger wild birds like blue jays love pumpkin seeds, too. Follow these directions to roast them (no salt or seasoning, please!) and offer on a tray feeder or just sprinkle on the ground for birds to enjoy.

Turn Your Pumpkin into a Bird Feeder

As suggested by a Birds & Blooms reader, cut off the top half of the pumpkin and fill the bottom half with birdseed. Place outside for the birds to enjoy. Learn how to make your own pumpkin bird feeder.

Share Pumpkins with Butterflies

In warmer climates, offer pumpkin flesh and pulp in your butterfly garden. Simply cut into small pieces and place in a shallow dish for fruit-loving butterflies like red-spotted purples to enjoy. In areas where butterflies are already gone for the winter,

Cut Up Pumpkins for Wildlife

You can also offer the pumpkin pieces for other wildlife like deer and rabbits. Place the cut-up pumpkin in an area where you can view the critters that come to feast on your pumpkin.

Feed Carved Pumpkins to Chickens

Backyard chickens will be thrilled by this special treat. Be sure to do this while your pumpkin is relatively fresh and has not started to form mold. Chickens love pumpkins seeds, too.

Next, check out 5 garden uses for your old jack-o-lantern.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.