How Can I Help Wild Birds Where I Live?
Avoid creating hazards for wildlife. The rubbish we throw away every day can be a real problem for wildlife if we’re not careful. You can save wild lives without even knowing it, just by taking care to reduce, reuse or recycle your litter.
Be a WildLifesaver: dispose of all your rubbish properly
Create a wonderful window box. Bees and other pollinators will love it if you choose plants to give them pollen and nectar – here are some great tips for your window box. Also plant flowering herbs like rosemary, marjoram, thyme and sage – bees love these, and you can use herbs in the kitchen too.
Have a wildlife-friendly garden. You can plant wildflowers to attract pollinating insects which birds can feed on. You can also keep a wild area in your garden with a log pile and undergrowth to encourage spiders, beetles, worms and other food for birds. This is great for hedgehogs too!
Trees and bushes give birds a safe place to hide and keep watch for cats and sparrowhawks.
If you don’t ‘dead head’ your flowers they will produce seeds for seed-eating birds like goldfinches.
Why not make an insect hotel? Here’s a guide from the RSPB
Be a WildLifesaver: take small steps to be wildlife-friendly where you live
Feed the birds in your garden all year round. Natural food supplies have declined as humans take over land for building and farming. We can go some way to making it up to our wild birds by providing food for them. Your aim is to supplement the birds’ natural food though, not to provide a complete diet for them.
If you have a garden, different birds will visit to feed throughout the year, so keep your bird feeders stocked up all year round with different seeds depending on the season. In the spring, garden birds are hard at work finding insects for their growing babies, so supplementary feeding of seeds like niger and sunflower hearts are good for them. Don’t leave out whole loose peanuts or other large chunks of food during this time, as chicks can choke on them. Crush nuts or put them in a suitable feeder. Here’s some more great advice from the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA) on what to feed birds, when and how.
Don’t forget that birds need a drink and a bath too! A birdbath is a help to birds, and a dish of fresh clean water to drink from, particularly in dry weather – this should be a shallow dish ideally with sloping sides and no more than 5cm (2in) deep. Make sure you regularly rinse it, allow to dry and fill with fresh water. If there’s a frost, take any ice out of the water dish so the birds can still have a drink.
Be a WildLifesaver: support birds with food and water through the year
Help birds stay healthy. Don’t leave out so much food that it hangs around and goes stale and mouldy – that’s not good for the birds.
Good hygiene is really important when feeding birds, to prevent diseases spreading. Clean and disinfect your feeders regularly, particularly between January and May, and rinse and air-dry your feeders before using them again. Garden Wildlife Health and PFMA have more great advice on minimising disease risks.
Protect garden birds from cats. We see hundreds of birds every year, as well as bats and small rodents, who have been caught by cats and need to be treated for infections and wounds. Sadly they sometime die from their injuries or need to be euthanased if their injuries are too severe.
Don’t let cats get to your feeding birds. Position your bird feeders and bird nesting boxes away from walls and fences where cats can hide, and don’t feed birds on the ground.
You can also reduce the risk to birds by limiting the time your cat spends outdoors during the night, during the early bird breeding season, when birds are fledging and when birds are most likely to be feeding – around sunset, sunrise and after bad weather (see this advice from PFMA).
A bell on your cat’s collar can also help to warn birds of their approach!
Be a WildLifesaver: help feeding birds stay out of the cat’s reach
Here are some organisations who can give you more advice on helping birds and other wildlife where you live:
Get involved in conservation. By identifying and recording wildlife in the UK, you can help conservationists understand more and protect our wildlife. Take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, Friend of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count, the Big Butterfly Count or find a Bioblitz event near you!
And finally, remember to watch, listen and enjoy the birds in your garden, local park and neighbourhood!
Be a WildLifesaver: enjoy the wildlife around you!