Everyone with bird feeders in their garden will have noticed that although the weather has been unusually warm over the last few weeks, birds have continued to feed hard. With Spring and the breeding season just around the corner perhaps we should now be thinking about providing our feathered friends with access to suitable high protein feeds which they will need for raising their young and also for moulting after their young have fledged.
For advice on feeding go to one of RSPB links below.
In order to minimise the risks of birds passing on any illnesses to each other, please ensure that all feeders, feeding tables, drinkers and bird baths are kept well scrubbed and that a supply of clean, fresh water is always available. After birds have been using bird baths for communal bathing it’s also good practice to clean and refill them – nobody would want to drink anyone else’s bath water, neither should the birds!
It’s now also a good time to check the condition of nest boxes; if you are considering putting some up, again the RSPB web site has some good advice to offer.
In addition to providing water and the correct food for our feathered friends, we must not forget our dwindling hedgehog population. Hedgehogs are true hibernators and when conditions are right for hibernation, they are able drop their body temperature to match their surroundings and enter a state of torpor which allows them to save energy by slowing down bodily functions, making normal activity impossible. In recent years our Winter temperatures locally have seldom fallen below 5ºC for any length of time, so conditions for hibernation have been far from ideal. It is probable that many hedgehogs will not have been able properly to hibernate and they will have been forced to venture out foraging for whatever food they can find during the lean Winter months.
As with the birds, it is also important to keep a supply of clean, fresh water available for hedgehogs which venture out for a drink and a feed. Hedgehogs will eat tinned cat or dog meat (not fish) as well as dry* cat or dog food (*this will also help them to keep their teeth clean). The GSPCA and local pet shops also hold supplies of dried food specifically designed for hedgehogs. Whatever you do, please DO NOT feed hedgehogs bread and milk – as this could kill them. Please bear in mind that if hedgehogs are seen out in the daytime, it is possible that something is seriously wrong and they might be sick and in urgent need of help. Carefully place them in a box (so that they don’t waddle off into the undergrowth to die a slow death), while you go off to phone the GSPCA on 01481 257261 for advice. If you happen to find any sick or lean and underweight hedgehogs, these will also need our help. As a general guide an adult hedgehog should weigh at least 600gms in order to have enough reserves to survive hibernation, but if they do not hibernate properly, these fat reserves will be rapidly depleted. The GSPCA is always available with expert advice and assistance.
In conclusion, please remember the hedgehogs when tidying up the garden and veg patch – strimmers, bonfires and slug pellets all spell disaster for hedgehogs! Who would want to be a hedgehog?
The links below have some useful information about feeding garden birds and hedgehogs.
E-mail: – firstname.lastname@example.org
or consult GSPCA on 257261