How To Help Wildlife in Spring
Spring is on it’s way (we’ve already noticed the mornings getting brighter…hoorah!) and that means the outdoors will be buzzing with new life. Sadly we often read and hear about declines in wildlife, from birds to hedgehogs and bees to deer.There are lots of groups of people working hard to preserve the natural beauty of this country and there’s lots that individuals can do to help.
We’ve compiled a list of ways you can help support your local wildlife in spring and encourage it to flourish all the way through summer. Including putting out plenty of food and treats, as long as it’s the right kind of food and treats. This will mean a great start for birds who need to be healthy and well fed ready for the winter (we like to plan ahead).
Let It Grow
It’s tempting with the start of spring to get to work trimming, cutting and pruning the garden which is the right time of year for it. However, don’t go overboard. If you can keep some plants and bushes a bit overgrown and busy it will provide a safe haven for your garden wildlife in spring. Many wild birds like a bit of foliage surrounding their nests to make them feel hidden and secure. If there’s a particular plant that attracts a lot of bees then let it grow! Bees are in decline so give them plenty of nectar to work with and maintain their hive.
Feed The Birds
We’re spending a bit more than a tuppence per bag these days. According to an article on the BBC’s website, people in the UK spend around £200 million every year on caring for wild birds! Most gardens naturally provide lots of nutrition for wildlife in spring, particularly for wild birds. Different species of birds have different nutritional needs so putting out a variety of foods out for them will mean a tasty treat for them all and prevents the birds competing for the same food. By the time spring arrives the worst of the cold weather will (hopefully) be behind us. But it’s still worth making sure there’s plenty of calories out there to keep them plump and healthy. If you have one our nest box cameras installed but haven’t got any lodgers yet, then you’re probably desperate to encourage one in to enjoy your very own Springwatch this spring. Putting out the right kind of foods will attract more birds to your garden and increase your chances of a bird discovering your nesting box and settling down to raise some chicks.
Some types of food you might want to provide include:
- Fat Balls for a quick boost of energy
- Mixed Seed is popular with most species of bird. Make sure to source it from a reputable seller or animal store to get the best quality seeds
- Apples are a tasty treat for many types of bird with a sweet tooth
- Meal Worms add a bit of protein to their diet – popular with Robins
- Bread and Cheese Crumbs are an energy rich food for birds
Tim Harrison from the British Trust for Ornithology spoke to the BBC about what foods to feed birds. Here’s his list of DON’Ts:
- Cooked Oats can dry and solidify around birds beaks so avoid using this
- Loose whole peanuts can choke chicks, so put these inside a tight mesh so the parent birds have to break them into pieces to get at them
- Don’t place the food in places where predators can reach the birds – place it near trees, bushes
Feeding Other Wildlife
Other wildlife such as small rodents, badgers and foxes will happily snack on some of the foods for birds listed above. Foxes apparently have quite the sweet tooth for fruit whilst badgers will happily gnaw on a few peanuts. Hedgehogs are quite keen on dog food for a meaty treat, so if your dog is going on a diet this spring then put the leftovers outside for your prickly neighbours. Be sure to clear away any old or rotten food to keep your garden snacks fresh and healthy for the bustling wildlife in spring time.
Be careful when clearing out your garden this spring if you’re moving any piles of brush or branches. Wild animals like hedgehogs may only just be waking up from hibernation and may still be curled up snug and cosy inside.You don’t want to scare them and equally you don’t want a prickled hand. Got a few tips of your own to share? Get in touch on our Facebook page and share it with our fans.