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Keeping wildlife cool; 5 tips for the summer

The hot weather is here!

Whether you love to bask in the sunshine, chill out with an ice cream, or stay indoors and keep cool, we know how to look after ourselves in the hot weather. However, our furry, feathered, and many legged friends need to keep cool too. A few small changes can give them a helping hand.

Here are our top 5 tips for keeping wildlife cool and beating the heat;

Take the plunge- get a pond!

Ponds are one of the simplest ways to transform a garden. No matter how small your outside space, try and squeeze in some wonderful water. Even an old washing up bowl can be filled with water and a pond plant or two; you’ll be guaranteed to attract some new wildlife.

Ponds should always have a ramp or gradual slope in and out. This means that all animals can enter and exit safely. In hot weather many insects, amphibians, small mammals, and birds are sure to enjoy a drink and a cheeky dip.

Bathing birds

Water is vital, both for garden birds and other animals. It provides hydration, a place to cool off, and a space to bathe. This is especially important for birds as, in order to fly, they have to keep their feathers in tip top condition.

By submerging themselves in water and flicking their wings birds can keep themselves cool and clean. Once they’ve finished, they’ll fly off to dry out and preen themselves. Preening in itself is a really interesting process; many birds have a preen gland which produces oil so, when you see them preening, they’re actually spreading this oil and straightening their feathers.

Keep your insects flying high

Gardens are home to wide varieties of insects. Because each garden is different, the mix of insects is slightly different too.

Like all the other wildlife in your garden these bugs need sustenance, and the good news is, it’s pretty easy to provide. All you need to do is make sure that you have a wide variety of flowering plants. Natives are always best but most insects, especially bees and butterflies, will just be grateful for food. Remember, most insects do drink water (although some get enough from the leaves they eat), so shallow water is a must have.

Don’t stop the feeding

There is some conflicting advice about whether or not birds should be fed in summer but providing a helping hand for nature is always a good idea. In summer there is a greater abundance of seeds, berries, and insects to eat, but dry weather can reduce their availability and searching for food in the heat can be exhausting.

This summer treat your garden birds to seed, mealworms, fat balls, and peanuts to keep your garden birds healthy and well fed.

Shelter and shade

It’s not just people that like to cool off under an umbrella- shade is vital for wildlife in hot weather. Remember, many animals are specially adapted for our generally cooler climate so, when we get a heatwave, they can become very uncomfortable.

Tree cover, shrubs, and tall plants are great for providing shade and shelter for wildlife. Plus, they provide structure and interest in your garden too! Native plants are even better, as they are home to lots of insects. So, whilst the birds, amphibians, and small mammals are making the most of the shade and shelter they might also find some tasty snacks!

Remember, all our habitats are connected, from rivers to woodlands to wetlands. Gardens are no exception to this. By looking after your wildlife at home, you can look after your wild spaces too. 

keeping wildlife cool