As the weather gets increasingly colder, we need to remember that it’s not just us humans who struggle to adjust to the temperature change, it’s the animals as well. While we are all throwing on our hats, scarves and woolly jumpers, the wildlife in our gardens are having to look after themselves, but we can take steps to ensure that we are protecting them.
Dobies, retailers of garden plants and other garden essentials, have provided us some tips on how to ensure that your garden is still accommodating to wildlife visitors during harsher conditions:
When winter sets in, birds can struggle to keep their energy up and remain warm. Fatty foods can help with this, with one thing that you can do is leaving out fat blocks in wire cages. These are really simple to make or you could buy them in the shops. If you want to try your hand at making them, they can be made with lard and packed full of goodness for birds, such as fruit, seeds and dried mealworms – all things which are available in the supermarket. For smaller bird such as wrens, you can search your kitchen for some scraps and leave out finely chopped unsalted bacon rind and grated cheese which they love. They will really appreciate it!
Some ground-feeding birds struggle to find food due to frost, so place seeds or fat balls on a wire mesh just off the ground to help them.
When temperatures begin to drop, ponds and other water sources can become frozen over. This may be the only water source for birds to drink and bathe in – hindering their hydration and hygiene which can be fatal. It’s a good idea to make sure you leave a dish of water outside for them and you should change it every day to ensure that it doesn’t freeze over.
As winter comes to an end, clean out your bird boxes so they are ready for the new breeding season.
Helping the hedgehogs
In difficult conditions, weak hedgehogs are spotted during the day in gardens and through the streets. Signs like these suggest that hedgehogs often struggle to find sufficient food and water when it gets frosty. This is unfortunately the time of year when you see hedgehogs as victims of road traffic accidents as they’re too weak and slow to get across the road in time and avoid cars.
To prevent hedgehogs dehydration, you can leave out a dish of water as you have done with the birds. To feed hedgehogs and keep their energy up, you could also leave out meat-based dog or cat food (which is something a lot of people will already have in the house) which will help fatten them up for wintertime.
With bonfire night approaching too, make sure that you check piles of wood and twigs for hedgehogs before lighting as they like to hide in dark places.