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Seasonal advice- Helping our wildlife this winter

We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable to the extremes the elements take. Here’s is some information from the National RSPCA on how you can lend a helping hand to wildlife in winter:

Feeding birds in winter

Robin standing in snow © Becky Murray / RSPCA Photolibrary

Birds may have difficulty finding normal food in winter, to help them stay strong leave out extra food for them.

What should you feed garden birds?

  • Suitable seeds and grains (like nyjer, millet, oats, and sunflower seeds).
  • Only feed peanuts if they’re unsalted, fresh and sold for human consumption or by a reputable feed shop. To protect chicks from being fed whole nuts and choking, provide peanuts in good quality mesh feeders.
  • Cooked pasta or rice, boiled potatoes, cheese, uncooked and unsalted bacon rind, raisins and sultanas.
  • Net-free fat or suet balls attract a wide range of species and provide a great boost of calories.
  • Apples, pears and soft fruits are popular and are a great autumn food.
  • Insects such as mealworms or waxworms.

Helping badgers in severe weather

Badgers don’t hibernate, but they do sleep through most of the severe weather, and have a tough time finding their favourite food of earthworms when the ground is frozen. Nibbles such as lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit would be welcomed.

Help stock a squirrel’s store

Grey Squirrel holding monkey nut in mouth while climbing on tree

Squirrels ‘cache’ (store) food when it’s in good supply, to eat when food is scarce.

To help squirrels survive the coldest times of year offer nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, plus some chopped apple, beans, carrots or spinach.

Melting frozen ponds

Toxic gases can build up in frozen ponds, killing fish or frogs which may be hiding at the bottom. If you have a pond, check it every day for ice.

If the pond does freeze over, carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to melt a hole. Never tip boiling water onto it or break the ice with force, as this can harm fish.

Hibernating hedgehogs, frogs and mice

Before lighting bonfires check carefully any wood or leaf piles for wild animals such as hedgehogs, frogs and mice, who like to hibernate in these cosy spots. If you find wild animals in hibernation, be sure to leave them be.

Emma MillsSeasonal advice- Helping our wildlife this winter