16 comments on “Wildlife gardening in winter

  1. I feel so bad. I put my concrete bird bath away because my in-laws told me if I leave it out all winter, the thaw/freeze cycle can/would destroy my bird bath. 😦 Do you have any recommendations? I do not have an electrical outlet outside, so I am unable to provide them with a heater for the bird bath. I have been providing the birds water in a plastic basin, which they have been using, but with weather in the teens, it freezes up quickly! Any advice would be appreciated. 🙂

    • Hi April. Don’t feel bad, some bird baths do break due to temperature. I am glad that you are still providing water for the birds 🙂

      I’m yet to try this, but if the weather isn’t too bad floating a light ball or cork in the water can prevent a patch of it from freezing due to the ball or cork moving in the wind. Even if only a little bit remains unfrozen the birds can have a drink.

      Without outside power you’re probably going to have pop outside each morning to check on the water but the birds will appreciate your effort! I’d have the water as near to the house as possible – how close do your birds tend to come? For me, only the blackbirds come all the way to the house.

      It’s likely whatever you try it will freeze over a lot. Resting a hot pan on the ice will melt it and at a reduced risk of cracking the bath, rather than poring hot water on to it. You could try warming the water up with a candle, but the easiest way is probably to have the bath lined with something you can lift out the ice with and then refill the bath. Or just switch basins each day.

      The candle idea is illustrated here http://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/activity-sheets look for the winter bird bath sheet (sorry it’s for kids, but at least that means it’s easy to do).

      Basically, the weather wins. All you can do is find the easiest way for you get rid of the ice and to get to the bird bath easily in the first place.

      I make a trip to the bottom of my garden everyday to check the water and feed the birds at the same time, especially as our home made heater is still relatively untested. It can feel a chore, but it’s worth it when all the birds appear 🙂

      Thanks for your comment 😀 If you try out any ideas, I’d love to hear how it goes.

      Sarah x

  2. THANK YOU so much. I love the idea of the cork in the water. I have a very small yard, only 1/10th of an acre, and a very large house, so yes, the birds come right up to the house which is good for feeding them, etc. Plus I love watching them from my windows! ~As does my cat!
    My father tells me I’m being stupid and that the birds will eat the snow, lol….
    Thanks for the link. I’m going to check that out now!

    • You are very welcome 🙂

      Snap! My cat and I love bird watching too 🙂

      I have heard that they eat snow and drink from melting icicles but the rspb, our main bird charity, recommend it so there must be something in it, every little helps I guess. Especially if its a long cold snap and nothing is melting.

      Good luck with the cork trick.

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