Throughout the year the wildlife living on your patch will be grateful for any help you can give them. Whether it’s the garden birds, some wild mammal visitors or the insect population – we’ve got some tips that will help you keep them happy and thriving.
Whilst we do encourage you to consider looking after your local wildlife – be careful that they don’t become so dependent on you that they no longer seek natural food sources. What you should be doing is supplementing their feeding habits – or helping to create the habitats for their food to thrive.
Before you start putting food out for your local wildlife – take some time to observe what you already have coming into your garden and in the neighbourhood. Whilst birds may be relatively easy to spot – you may want to consider investing in a trail camera to discover who else is already visiting.
Birds LOVE sunflower seed hearts – but they can get addicted to them. It’s like giving a child sugar – they have a high calorie content. Don’t put them out all the time – vary what food you are leaving out for the birds.
Nyger seed is a great option if you find you have a lot of goldfinches in your area.
Peanuts are a popular choice. You do need to ensure that the bird can’t take a whole peanut in one go as there is a risk of choking. This is especially the case during the nesting season.
Fat / suet offer a great source of energy for birds. You can buy it either in balls, blocks or pellet form. If you buy as balls or blocks – you need to be sure you can get your thumbnail into it. If you can’t – chances are the birds will struggle to get their beaks in. Be wary when shopping for them – it isn’t unheard of for cheap fat balls to be packed with glue and sawdust.
Top Tip: If you’d rather rodents weren’t benefitting from the feast you’re leaving out for the birds … add some chilli powder to the food (it has no effect on the birds but the rodents don’t like it).
Household scraps can also be left out for garden birds – such as grated cheese, oats, and apple. Whilst bread will be eaten by the birds it should be avoided as it lacks any nutritional value for them.
Here in the United Kingdom you may be lucky enough to have foxes, badgers or even a hedgehog visit your garden. Keep an eye out and there may be some smaller mammals visiting too. Wood mice, voles, shrews or even brown rats may be spotted. For the smaller mammals – a small scattering of a bird seed mix will be welcomed. For larger mammals such as badgers or foxes – whole peanuts are welcomed, as are dry or wet dog and cat food.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who have hedgehogs in your garden (or indeed in your area) – make sure you’re leaving gaps in your boundary fencing for them to get through. You can buy special hedgehog friendly food – alternatively you can use a high protein dog or cat food.
Bees, butterflies & other insects
Feeding garden wildlife isn’t just about what food you can buy to put out for them – it’s also about what you plant in your garden. There are a plethora of wild flower seed mixes out there now which have been blended with bees, butterflies and other insects in mind. Bees are natures pollinators – they’re such a vital species for the survival of everything. By selecting bee friendly plants for your garden you are helping ensure the survival not only of needs but of the many other species that are dependent on them.
Feeding garden wildlife is just one part of the equation – providing them with suitable habitats is another. There is a whole host of wildlife housing available to buy from bird houses, bat boxes, hedgehog houses, bug hotels and frogitats (if you do a quick search online you’ll probably find instructional videos on how to make your own). With bird boxes – different species prefer different types of places to nest so take some time to see what birds you have in your area to then provide a suitable place for them to both roost and nest. You can buy nest boxes with built in camera systems which can be either wirelessly or hard wired into your television set. It can become compulsive viewing watching new life come into the world.
If you have space in your garden – you could consider digging a wildlife friendly pond or leaving an area set aside for nature. A log pile left in a secluded corner of your garden makes a great habitat for insects and bugs.
What wildlife do you have in your garden? Share your photos of them with us on our Facebook page.
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The Global Wildlife Rescue Project is a registered charity in England & Wales. Registered charity number 1188557.