Winter can be a particularly tough time for everyone, especially this year! It’s such a blessing to be able to curl up in front of a warm fire, pull on a cosy sweatshirt or snuggle up under a soft duvet. However, the hustle and bustle of the natural world continues outside in the cold. How can you help wildlife this winter?
When I was doing the research for this blog, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and inexpensive it is to adapt your garden to help the local wildlife this winter. As always, when it comes to helping our beautiful planet, little changes have big impacts!
I see so many birds enjoying the winter sun, so naturally I started looking at recipes for fat balls to feed them. However, there are so many more animals finding safety in your garden that you don’t see at all! I’m sure there are plenty of rabbits, hedgehogs and even deer frequenting our garden.
How can we help them?
How can we help them?
1. Let your garden grow wild
2. create a hole in frozen pods
This is a new one for me! Sometimes when ice freezes over ponds, it can trap and cause a buildup of toxic gases which can harm hibernating fish. Also, frogs and toads, instead of hibernating go into a state of torpor, which means they venture out on warmer days, so will still need access to water!
3. Feed the local wildlife this winter
Making fat balls for your anti-squirrel bird feeder springs to mind almost immediately when it comes to feeding local wildlife. There are so many great recipes online, just make sure to use lard or suet, other oils can clog up the bird’s feathers. I need not remind you of the horror stories of bad diets in your teenage years…
However, other local winter wildlife certainly wouldn’t mind a light snack to help them survive the cold seasons. Here is a quick list of their favourites:
- Foxes – eggs, cheese, leftover roast chicken, bread, boiled potatoes and fat scraps
- Squirrels – nuts (of course!), apples, carrots, spinach, cracked corn and beans
- Badgers – cheese, peanuts and fruit
- Hedgehogs – minced meat, tinned dog/cat food (not fish-based), chopped boiled egg, crushed cat biscuits, scrambled eggs
- Small mammals – seed mix
Loves foxes? Then check out the fox collection
10% of proceeds from each sale of an item in the fox collection is donated to The Fox Project, to support the conservation and rehabilitation of foxes in the UK!
4. Check before lighting bonfires
5. Leave out fresh water everyday
Birds still need to bathe during winter, poor things, but it does help keep them insulated! Leave freshwater in a shallow bowl out each day, it will not only help the birds, but also other animals may struggle to find drinkable water in the winter.
Check the freshwater hasn’t frozen over when you can. Alternatively, bring back the tennis ball technique from earlier, so animals can access the water through the hole.
6. Build shelters to help wildlife this winter
Shelters don’t just include bird boxes, different animals like different forms of shelter too. They can’t all fit in a small wooden house and everyone deserves somewhere to call home!
Here’s a couple of shelters that you could build in your garden and who might like them:
- Pile of leaves for hedgehogs
- Bat and bird boxes
- Bundle stems, like bamboo etc., together and leave them in a dry place for insects
- A north facing rock pile for frogs to sun themselves during the day
- Leave plant skeletons from perennials for birds to shelter on
7. Donate and give supplies to your local Wildlife trust
This is one of my favourites! There are lots of wildlife hospitals across the country, their aim is to rehabilitate the wildlife they rescue and release them back into the wild. However, winter is tough on fit animals, let alone recovering and weakened wildlife!
If you’re not sure who to donate to, you can find local UK wildlife hospitals here. These charities will appreciate financial donations or donations that will help keep underweight animals warm or can fatten them up. So tasty treats or even blankets and heat mats are welcomed!
Thanks for caring about the planet and it’s beautiful animals,