How to look after your garden’s winter wildlife this season
Are you worrying about how the creatures that visit your garden are coping with the cold weather? Winter is a tough time for garden animals, but there are plenty of quick and simple ways you can do your bit to help.
Dobies, suppliers of garden plants and other outdoor essentials, have given us some expert tips on how to make your garden a haven for all your friendly wildlife visitors this winter.
Through desperation for food and water in winter, hedgehogs often take the risk of wandering into gardens and streets during the day. This puts them in danger of cars and predators.
To help, you can leave out a dish of water for hedgehogs to prevent dehydration, as well as meat-based dog or cat food to fatten them up for the season. With bonfire night approaching too, make sure that you check piles of wood and twigs for hedgehogs before lighting.
One of the major problems birds face in colder months is staying energised and keeping warm. To help, leave out fat blocks in wire cages. These could be made with lard and packed full of nutritional food — such as fruit, seeds and dried mealworms. For smaller birds, such as wrens, search your kitchen for some scraps and leave out finely chopped unsalted bacon rind and grated cheese. Ground-feeding birds have the extra struggle of frost when it comes to foraging for food, so place seeds or fat balls on a wire mesh just off the ground for them.
What about hydration? As you know, ponds and puddles can freeze over during winter. Often, these are the only water sources for birds to drink and bathe in, which means their hydration and hygiene take a hit. Therefore, leave out a dish of water or an upturned bin lid filled with water for birds to enjoy. Make sure to wash out your bird boxes, so that they’re ready for the new breeding season when spring comes.
Making sure chickens are safe and secure
Lots of people also have chickens in their gardens or on their allotments. But with frostbite, storms and heavy rain, winter is hard to endure for these creatures. But don’t worry, there are things you can do to make sure your chickens stay healthy:
Coat their combs and wattles in petroleum jelly to help prevent frostbite.
Check for leaks in the coop – you can repair any holes with plywood, or if it’s time for something new, purchase from a garden retailer.
Insulate windows to trap heat during the day and keep the coop warmer for longer.
Don’t forget the other creatures that make up your garden, as they might also need help this winter. Here are a few tips to help other animals survive winter:
Let your grass grow over winter to allow insects stay protected from the weather. Or, make a pile of twigs, rocks and rotting wood to build a shelter for them.
Stop frogs from suffocating by floating a tennis ball, or something similar, in your pond to prevent it from freezing.
Plant seeds that bloom in winter to provide a food source for bees.
Follow these easy tricks to keep wildlife thriving in your garden this winter — many won’t survive the season without you.