Winter can be a difficult time for our wildlife, so here are a few tips to help the creatures in your garden.
Did you know that birds need to eat up to a third of their body weight each day?
You can buy various bird feeders and provide different types of seeds and berries to different types of birds but you can also feed birds with scraps that you were about to throw away.
Birds love fat cakes as they give them energy in the winter to keep themselves warm but these don’t need to be shop bought. You can use all kinds of kitchen scraps such as grated cheese and dry porridge oats, cake or bread crumbs, unsalted nuts, currants or sultanas just mix with melted lard or suet and set in a fridge overnight.
(Don’t use turkey fat though as this won’t set properly and can harm birds by coating their feathers leaving them unable to fly. It can also spread diseases.)
Once mixed with the melted fat you can pour the mixture into an old yoghurt pot or similar after making a hole in the bottom and threading string or similar through it. When the mixture has set, just slit the pot down the side and take out your hanging suet feeder.
Always hang feeders where birds have lots of cover away from predators then they will feel safe enough to enjoy their meal in peace!
Hedgehogs struggle to get through winter too with nearly half of all hedgehogs dying during their first winter.
You can help hedgehogs by making a leaf pile for them to shelter in and by leaving a shallow dish of water out for them.
Hedgehogs do hibernate over winter so always check bonfires before lighting them. If the winter is mild hedgehogs get tricked into thinking it is spring and can wake from hibernation early to search for food. They will then waste valuable energy searching for food so if you see one out and about in winter you can provide chicken flavoured cat or dog food and water.
Further help can be found if you find a hedgehog that seems to be unwell at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
Frogs, toads and newts don’t hibernate but enter a state of torpor where they will wake up and search for food on warmer days.
These creatures need shelter so you can easily provide piles of leaves, rocks or plant pots. They will also sleep in compost heaps and in mud in the bottom of ponds. If you are lucky enough to have a pond, leave a tennis ball floating on the surface to prevent it completely freezing over in cold weather.
Butterflies hibernate in garages, sheds and out houses so it’s important to not do too much tidying of these areas over winter…as if we needed an excuse to not tidy!
Remember, the smallest things can make a difference to our wildlife and we can all do something to help them through the winter.