Cheshire Wildlife Group
"For those who enjoy the nature around us"
How you can help our Wildlife
A few tips with easy things you can do to help our wildlife. As the weather and temperatures change, our wildlife and their requirements change, which we need to adapt to, especially helping our wildlife survive in the cold Winters.
A good way to help wildlife is to read up on wildlife via the wildlife index, visit the links and campaigns page and create as many of the things you can on the Do it yourself page. Please try to follow as many of these as possible.
The best way to attract wildlife is to provide food for them. This is far easier and widespread with garden birds but can be used for attracting squirrels, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs and owls. Gardens are becoming more important to all wildlife. Despite us being lucky throughout Cheshire to be in a green natural place we do still need to help wildlife in our gardens to counteract the problems caused by modernisation of gardens, un-necessary removal of trees, hedgerows and vegetation. The best way to do this is to base your actions on seasons when the climate changes, but feeding birds year round is recommended, but less so in the Spring and Summer months to prevent dependence on our input.
The following can safely be fed to garden birds year-round:
Bread (should be torn into small chunks), Stale breadcrumbs, Basic wild bird seed mix, Peanuts, 'Monkey Nuts', Sunflower seed and hearts, Nyjer seed, Fat Balls, Mealworms, Apples, Stale Cake, Bits of cooked meat, and Suet. Do not feed dessicated coconut to wild birds as it can swell inside their stomachs. Water should also be provided. Why not get a birdbath if you don't have a wildlife pond?
Spring- March, April, May
Summer- June, July, August
Autumn- September, October, November
Winter- December, January, February
DO- Put a nest box out in your garden for birds.
You can buy one at your local pet shop or garden centre.Before March.
DO- Continue to feed birds but not as much, donít feed bread as it can choke baby birds.
DO- Feed mealworms as they are especially good for new born birds.
DO- Plant trees now it's warm enough. Don't go for exotic ones. If you want them to fit in with the rest of your garden then have a dedicated wildlife zone! Get as much space as you can, whether on your lawn or some bare land, and plant as many as you can. Large bushy native trees, like Oak trees, provide habitat and reduces C02 emissions.
DO- Get a birdtable if you don't have one. It will encourage larger birds to visit bird tables as they are too large for feeders and this reduces the chance of them falling foul to cats.
DO- Get out walking and enjoy the wildlife really coming out in it's true colours!
DO- Plant an Apple or Fruit tree in your garden. Blackbirds love apples when Winter comes.
DO- Plant a Berry-Bearing Bush like Cotoneaster which by Winter should provide berries- a natural food source for birds.
DO- Plant a nectar rich plant like Buddleia which by Summertime will benefit Bees and Butterflies greatly!
DON'T- Use garden chemicals or peat. This is the time of the year when people get gardening and because of this chemicals are used to kill insects which birds love to eat! Slugs and snails, common pests which feed on most garden vegetation, when killed by slug pellets are no longer food for Song Thrushes Ė a species that has declined by 70% since 1970. Use crushed eggshells for slugs and get a compost heap as suggested below!
DO- Feed birds very little and feed only lighter seed. No suet or fat balls because these help the bird to put on weight when they don't necessarily need it. When natural food is readily available, we don't want birds to become too dependent on us.
DO- Build a wildlife pond. Ponds provide water to mammals and birds, plus a habitat for frogs, toads and newts. The best wildlife ponds don't have fish, as fish can eat tadpoles and insects. You can find information on building a wildlife pond on the Do-It-Yourself page.
DO- Be very careful when mowing your lawn! Amphibians can often bask in tall grass for shelter and fall victim to non-vigilant people mowing their lawns. Walk around your lawn before you start!
DO- Start a compost heap- the warm weather is ideal conditions for composting your kitchen waste- giving you free compost, more eco-friendly compost, reduces landfill and it also attracts insects which then benefits the food chain.
DO- Start overgrowing part of your garden! Whether behind a fence, hedge, a quiet out-of-sight part of your garden- Get as much space as you can and let it grow. Don't cut the grass, plant wildflowers, plant native hedges and bushes, don't trim hedges or disturb trees or spray weedkillers. Dump log piles and let the grass and weeds grow tall. This might surprise you but these areas provide shelter and food for birds and small animals. By Winter it will have grown into a wildlife-haven, which is when it is most needed!
DON'T- Disturb wild birds which are nesting in your garden. Don't touch your hedges or trees or disturb your nestboxes as frightened parents may never return to their chicks, resulting in death.
DON'T- Feed squirrels and scare away Jays and Magpies if you see (or hear) them near a bird nest either in your garden or out and about as they often pray on eggs and chicks from nests and birdboxes.
DO- Plant a hedge or hedgerow! Hedgerows can provide fruit such as elderberries and blackberries. In Autumn, blackbird's and thrushes come scouring for food and elderberries or other fruit are hard for the birds to resist. Hedgerows can also provide food for insects, as well as being a valuable shelter for wildlife.
DO- Clean out your nestbox.
DO- Clear fallen leaves as these can clog up wildlife ponds causing nutrient overload.
DO- Put an overturned plant pot with a hole in it filled with leaves, twigs and moss in a quiet part of your garden as it would be ideal for hedgehogs to hibernate in and small rodents to take shelter in.
DON'T- Trim back bushy ivy on fences or walls as it provides valuable roosting and hiding places for small animals in the Winter.
DON'T- Drive too fast down country lanes. Owls, Foxes and Badgers travel along and cross roads mainly during the darkness and the roads are busier as the nights are shorter meaning there are more casualties. Be observant!
This is when our input is crucial to reduce declines in wildlife numbers during harsh weather. Harvest Mice and small active birds are especially susceptible. Animals that hibernate over the winter can become confused by the swing from warm to cold weather. In particular hedgehogs can come out of hibernation too early, then use too much energy to take it through the rest of a cold winter. Shockingly, hedgehogs made it on to the list of UK endangered species last year for the first time. After the cold winter of 1963 it was estimated that 50% to 60% of our small bird population, such as robins and wrens, were lost. Want to know what you can do to help the wildlife in your garden?
DO- Leave out chicken or poultry carcasses or meat scraps out in the garden after your Sunday roast. Rabbits hibernate during the cold and wet, leaving foxes hungry and venturing into rural areas for food.
DO- Keep your birdbath topped up. Put out bowls of warm water in your garden (only when freezing), on the lawn. Birds, Stoats, Squirrels and other mammals all need to drink and survival-dependent water is scarce when it's freezing outside.
DO- Keep your bird table and bird feeders full of a variety of bird seeds and nuts. Peanuts and suet, in the form of fat balls or blocks, are best as they are high in fat and provide energy. Replace daily or as it runs out.
DO- Keep bird/owl boxes where they are as they can provide shelter during cold weather.
DO- Try and keep a hole open in your frozen wildlife pond for Carbon Dioxide to escape and prevent poisoning hibernating frogs. Pour a cup or pan of boiling water onto the ice every day to allow it to breathe!
DO- Encourage your neighbours, friends and family to help wildlife by following in your footsteps.
DON'T- disturb log piles, heaps of sticks or branches in your garden. Hedgehogs could be hibernating in them.
DON'T- Cut back overgrown areas until Spring, you could disturb Hedgehogs deep in hibernation which could cause death.
DON'T- Cut down any hedges, trees, cut long grass- don't touch the garden. It all provides valuable shelter for animals. Wait until spring if you have to!
Thanks for helping the wildlife!
More to come...
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