Winter can be a hard time for wildlife

Short days and freezing cold nights make winter a tough time for many animals. Whilst some stock up in autumn and hibernate through the winter, others must face the daily challenge of finding food and water to see them through to spring.

With many of our favourite garden species already struggling due to habitat loss, intensive agriculture and numerous other threats, they are in desperate need of our help.





Blackbird silhouette

Some garden birds have seen drastic declines in the last 50 years

…tree sparrows ? 97%
…starlings  ? 85%
…bullfinches ? 53%
…song thrushes ? 48%

How to help wildlife this winter

Fortunately, there are many simple ways for everyone to lend our garden wildlife a helping hand this winter…


1. Feed the birds

Birds can expend a huge amount of energy just staying warm during cold winter nights, meaning that finding food is a top priority during daylight hours. Providing a consistent supply of energy-rich foods can make an enormous difference to these birds, whilst also providing you with a fantastic opportunity to watch them. There are also some foods to be avoided, so read our blog to find what to put out.

2. Provide water

Finding fresh water is just as important as finding food because animals still need to drink. Birds also need to bathe regularly to keep their plumage in good condition, so putting out a shallow dish of fresh water is another simple way to help. Remember that this will need to be kept topped up and made need defrosting after freezing nights.

3. Check for hibernating animals

Hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts, bats and many insects spend the winter months hibernating. Leaving a few piles of logs and leaves in the garden will provide them with a sheltered place to rest. Remember to check bonfires before lighting and compost heaps before turning in case something has taken winter refuge underneath.

4. Have a sustainable Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time of celebration – a time to enjoy good food and exchange gifts with our friends and family. Unfortunately, this often results in bins overflowing with food waste, plastic packaging and unrecyclable wrapping paper. By making environmentally-friendly buying choices this festive season (and throughout the year), you can help to keep this unnecessary waste down and reduce your impact on wildlife.

5. Support our work

Becoming a member of the Trust means that you’ll be helping to support the work we do to conserve wildlife all across Scotland. You’ll also gain free entry to our visitor centres, be sent our wildlife magazine three times a year and receive invitations and discounts to events across the country.

6. Prepare for spring

Late winter is the time to prepare your garden for spring to ensure that it continues to play an important role for wildlife. Nest boxes, which may have been used overwinter as shelters for small birds such as wrens, will need to be cleaned ready for nesting season. Early-flowering plants should be planted to give pollinators an important early source of nectar, and flowerbeds can be mulched to nourish the soil.

7. Be a champion for nature

As well as taking practical action to help wildlife, it’s just as important to help spread the word. When you’re around family and friends this winter, strike up a conversation about the things that you’ve been doing to help wildlife and encourage them to take action too. You could also share this page on social media using the buttons below.

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