Wildlife In Winter
Winter can be a difficult time for a lot of wildlife in the UK; as the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, every bit of precious daylight is reserved for finding enough food to survive by those who do not hibernate… and for those who do, it’s about finding the safest spot to have a lovely long sleep.
Gardens, allotments, balconies and even shared outside spaces can become a vital spaces for wildlife as they provide an area of food, shelter and creating habitats.
Here are our recommendations for helping your local wildlife over the colder months.
Growing a variety of plants, trees and shrubs in your garden is one of the best ways to encourage biodiversity, and create wonderful habitats whilst attracting more wildlife into your space.
Leaving attractive perennials and seed heads can provide a habitat for insects over winter as well as food for birds.
Planting shrubs and trees create a wonderful space for shelter over winter for birds (and they’re even better if they’re native and produce berries which can be a tasty meal for a bird).
Tip – our favourite natives varieties to plant are Hawthorn, Rowan and Holly.
Leaving Food Out
Natural food sources are scarcer in winter which means animals rely on other means – so leaving out food can be really helpful.
Leave out a bird feeder with seeds or fat balls in to your garden for hungry birds (all year round is great, but throughout winter is even better).
Squirrels do not hibernate over winter but instead build up reserves of food in preparation for the colder months – leaving out extra food like hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds are great.
Meat based cat or dog food will be thoroughly appreciated by Hedgehogs, who will be building up their fat reserves to survive hibernation.
Tip – it’s best to leave out high fat and protein foods for birds over winter such as suet bricks, fat balls, sunflower hearts and peanuts.
Providing Fresh Water
Providing fresh water is important as this can be a vital source for birds and other wildlife.
Bird baths provide a regular space for birds to drink and wash – just make sure you keep it regularly cleaned to prevent the spread of disease.
Provide a shallow dish of water on the floors of your garden for small mammals such as Hedgehogs.
Tip – float a tennis or ping pong ball on the top of bird baths to stop them from freezing over.
Hedgehogs and Dormice are amongst the only small mammals that hibernate in winter in the UK; finding a safe, sheltered and warm space within the cold months are vital.
Leaf piles, logs, compost heaps, sheds, and nests are all places where you can find these animals hibernating; do take care before disturbing any of these spaces for sleeping mammals… you may also come across toads and frogs lurking in these areas over winter.
Tip – always check bonfires for wildlife before lighting, many Hedgehogs and mammals alike end up getting very hurt due to this issue.
Buying or creating bug hotels are fantastic for insects such as ladybugs overwintering, searching for a cosy spot in the colder months.
Tip – you can create your own bug hotel by piling old pallets, twigs, leaves, pots, bits of old shed, drawers, bricks and other garden debris.
Ponds release gases over winter, and if frozen over can cause real issues for wildlife living in said pond.
Float a tennis or ping pong ball on the top of pond surfaces to prevent them from freezing over.
Tip – never pour boiling water over the top of a frozen pond as this can be damaging for the wildlife living within it.