Apparently only one in five Brits has ever seen a hedgehog in their garden, and most children can’t identify Britain’s most common wild birds. At Unique Pets we are as passionate about wildlife as we are house pets and we encourage our customers to reverse this trend.
Feeding the birds
Ideally hanging feeders should be positioned on a sheltered easterly or southeasterly facing wall near a row of trees. If you can’t match all these requirements it is best to opt for somewhere secluded near a perching spot, i.e. a bush or tree. This means that the birds can scour for prey before diving in to feast. Ground feeders encourage sparrows, thrushes and dunnocks, but are more of a target for cats. Site them away from cover for prey, change the location every so often and remove uneaten food each night to avoid attracting vermin.
You can buy a ready-made birdseed mix suitable for all wild birds. Alternately choose a few seeds favoured in your garden and make your own selection with added suet, mealworm and fruit. Read our blog here on what to feed to attract specific birds. Put out a variety of high fat and high calorie foods to entice a wide range of birds, all looking to build reserves for winter warmth.
Clean your bird feeders out weekly and avoid leaving out a surplus of food which will attract unwanted visitors. As well as fresh food, make sure you offer a supply of clean water and replace on a daily basis to avoid any contamination or transmission of diseases.
It is best to site bird boxes two to four metres high, facing north or east to avoid direct sunlight. Boxes should be angled slightly forward to protect it from rain, and with a clear flight path to the entrance. Nest boxes are best put up during the autumn when many birds start looking for a suitable place to roost or feed. Old nests should be removed from September onwards, once the birds have stopped using the box, and should be thoroughly washed with boiling water to kill any parasites.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal nomadic creatures, much loved and misunderstood wildlife. They can travel up to two miles a night looking for mates, food and suitable daytime sleeping spots in bushes and hedges. Allow access through your garden via a 13cm x 13cm gap in the boundary. Offer a pile of leaves in which they can forage for insects and curl up during the day. Offer fresh water and specialist hedgehog food (or meaty dog or cat food) with a sprinkling of mealworms just after dusk. Do not leave out bread or milk.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so if you do see one out during the daytime it is likely to be ill. Pick it up carefully wearing thick gardening gloves, put it into a cardboard box and take it to your local rescue centre.
Make sure you thoroughly check areas for wildlife before operating any cutting machinery. Move piles of rubbish to a new site before burning and check compost heaps before sticking in your fork.