Temperatures are set to soar throughout April and May and according to the RSPB’s State of Nature report 2019, 41 per cent of UK wildlife species have significantly reduced, so it’s vital that we do whatever we can to look after them.
This summer, people will be spending more time in their gardens, relaxing with a cool drink in hand and making BBQ treats. However, while you do, consider the little creatures in your garden that might not have it so easy.
In the summer heat, some wildlife species may struggle to find water and food which can put them at risk, especially with their already decreasing numbers. Thankfully, there are some simple things we can do to help them out and we might even be able to reduce our household waste in the process.
By recycling certain items instead of throwing them away, you can help protect your local wildlife by keeping their habitat clean. So, grab your old plastic bottles and containers and make good use of them, as Skips And Bins has put together five ways you can help birds, insects, and small mammals by using household objects.
Managing director at Skips And Bins, Scott Hawthorne, said: “As temperatures are set to soar, you’re no doubt planning a relaxing weekend in the garden. But, while we have plenty of ways to cool down, our local wildlife isn’t so fortunate. And when numbers of certain species, such as hedgehogs and birds, are rapidly in decline, it’s vital that we all do our bit to protect them in the heat.
“There are so many simple ways to help British garden animals, whether it’s by providing extra water and food or a cool place to rest. What’s better, you can easily recycle your old household objects to save local wildlife - it really is a win win situation!
“Instead of throwing away your plastic bottles, containers, and garden waste, have a think about where you could reuse them. A little DIY is great fun, and a lovely way to keep kids occupied during the summer holidays too. So, why not have a go yourself?”
1 - Lay out small dishes of water and food
Wildlife can struggle to find water and food in the heat and as they search around for a refreshing drink to keep them cool, they could end up dehydrated - just like us humans.
To give wildlife a nice place to rest, relax and have a drink, you can leave out a small dish or container of water for them.
Try to put out at least one shallow container and one deeper dish to cater to various sizes of animals, for example hedgehogs and squirrels. Ideas of the types of containers to use are empty butter tubs, yoghurt pots and plastic takeaway containers are useful.
Remember to clean out the water and food dishes each day to avoid spreading diseases.
2 - Hang a water feeder for birds
Birds love to bathe in the summer; not only does a bath help to keep them clean and cool, but it can also provide a refreshing drink.
However, if you don’t have a bird bath, you can easily make one by using an old plastic bottle, a plate, and a small piece of wood. Below are the instructions for a DIY water feeder.
- Remove the cap from a plastic bottle (a 500ml bottle would be ideal) and glue it onto an old plate or plastic saucer.
- Drill a hole in the centre of the cap and through the plate, then fix them together with a screw.
- Glue a small piece of wood to the bottom of the saucer; this will give it more stability and provide somewhere for the birds to stand.
- Drill a few small holes in the neck of your plastic bottle.
- Tie a piece of wire around the bottom of the bottle to make a handle.
- Fill the bottle with water and screw it into the cap that you’ve glued onto the saucer.
- Hang your water feeder on a branch or washing line and wait for local birds to visit.
3 - Make your own bird feeder
Alongside your DIY water feeder which offers birds a refreshing drink, they will also need to eat too. Dry conditions can make it difficult for birds to find worms in the soil, so it’s very useful to put out your own birdseed to help these little creatures.
Although you can buy a bird feeder from most garden centres, it is also a more economical and environmentally friendly idea to reuse a few items around your house to make your own version. By using a plastic bottle, some string and a couple of sticks, you can provide your local feathered friends a perfect feeding area.
4 - Create a makeshift mini pond
Ponds can be a great wildlife haven and a fantastic home for various insects. Birds will also love to drink and bathe in the water. But if you don’t have a pond in your garden, no need to worry as you can make one yourself from containers you have around the house.
You can use anything for your makeshift pond, including an old plastic container, bucket, fish tank, or even an old sink. Anything that holds water would be perfect.
Then, all you need to do is fill it with gravel and rocks of various sizes to give wildlife a place to hide. You can even add some small pond plants, to give it a natural look. It’s also a good idea to lean a stick against the side of the dish going into the water, to give birds and other animals a ramp to help them in and out of it.
For a more realistic look, you can even dig a small hole in your garden and place your dish inside it so your pond is at ground level, which will make it easier for small creatures to access.
5 - Make a wildlife shelter
Animals need plenty of space to hide from predators and cool off in the heat, so if you have already done a spot of gardening this summer, you can recycle your leftover twigs and leaves to make a natural wildlife habitat. You can turn almost anything into a shelter, whether that’s a traditional log pile or more intricate structures.
Spend an afternoon making a dead hedge from your garden waste. All you need to do for this is knock a few sturdy poles into the ground to create a rectangular frame; this will form a barrier and stop your twigs from rolling away. Then lay any recently pruned branches and leaves you have lying around vertically inside the frame and wait for local wildlife to come along.