Otherwise, you could opt for a tray feeder – literally, a tray suspended in the air that birds can land on – or a hopper feeder. A hopper feeder is usually shaped like a house. It ejects bird seed from the bottom onto a tray, but the feed itself is contained within an enclosure. As the birds peck away at the feed that has been released from the hopper, it frees up more space for seed. The more they eat, the more they get.
Some feeders are shaped like a house and may resemble a hopper, but the birds can actually go inside. These make good shelter for the birds during bad weather conditions.
Different birds like different kinds of food. Blue tits, woodpeckers and wrens all like to eat suet, which is a fatty substance formed from beef which you can make at home yourself. If you ever see rounded balls in a bird feeder, it will be a fat ball – suet or lard mixed with nuts, seeds and mealworms. You can make these yourself (see below) or buy them from the shop. If you buy them in a netted mesh packaging, make sure you discard it before putting it in a feeder so smaller birds don’t choke on it.
Hedgehogs are one of the calmest animals you’ll meet – and will much appreciate an easy route being made for them. As long as you don’t have pets such as rabbits, the sight of a fox can be a wonderful night time prize for a gap in your fence. They’re flexible and small enough to creep underneath. Make sure you don’t make a sound though – or you’ll send them scurrying! Even little hares might pass by if you’re lucky. Wherever you live, you never know exactly what you might see…
3. Bug’s burrow
Dead leaves, rotten wood and spare soil need not be discarded. You can create a breeding ground for all sorts of wondrous bugs – which will fascinate the children. Pile up the detritus around an old tree trunk or make a small hill in the corner of your garden.
Woodlice, earthworms, centipedes and earwigs all thrive in dark, damp places. You’ll be providing them with a natural habitat for living and be providing yourself with some intriguing new viewing.
4. Long grass
Every living thing needs to drink to survive.
Setting up a bird bath or a pond is a great way to assist them in doing just that! You’ll have a variety of flying (and jumping) creatures popping in for a drink, and with a pond, even if you don’t own fish, you’ll further encourage wildlife to blossom in your back yard. Water boatmen, dragonflies, frogs and newts can all be found hanging round the local pond. There’s no better way to make sure of it than to put one in your garden!
Having a pond installed benefits you in a multitude of other ways too. They look great and can add value to your property.
Installing a camera to record live footage of your hedgehog hideaway, your bird bedsit or your rustling retreat can be rewarding for all the family. Good cameras and camcorders range in price, but some hardy ones can be pretty cheap! You could set it up inside a bird box or a shoebox if you don’t want any nosy beaks pecking away at it.
Leave it recording and then take it down every couple of weeks. Once you’ve exported the footage, you (and the children) will have heaps of fun identifying the different species you’ve had pass by!
Simple but effective
Transforming your back garden into a wildlife hub can be great for all the family, and hardly has to cost a penny. Peaceful for you and heaps of fun for the children during summertime, you’ll be doing the environment a favour too!