At this time of year there is so much going on in the garden - here are a few ways of introducing some wildlife to your outside space.
Most of all, get the children involved and get them muddy too! Nothing is more exciting for a toddler or pre-schooler than dirty hands, mucky knees and a brown, muddy smudge on their nose! Start a diary project and draw what you do and what you observe in the garden.
It's nearly spring, so why not make your garden into a wildlife garden and encourage some furry, buzzy and fluttery friends into the garden. Lovely for the children to watch and a chance to plant some pretty shrubs and trees. Here are some ideal plants to think about putting in this spring in order to attract wildlife:-
This weekend is dedicated to our garden birds - the country’s biggest survey takes place with families all over the country grabbing pens and paper to record what birds come to their gardens. Teach your children about the different birds to be seen in your garden, talk about the different colours and how to identify each type of bird.
To participate in the bird survey, simply go out into your garden or to a local park and sit for an hour (quietly!) and watch for birds. Note down what species you see and count them as you spot them. They must land in the garden or park rather than fly over.
When you have observed for an hour, and have your results, simply log your findings on the RSPB website (www.rspb.org.uk). There is a handy print out sheet on the site too to help identify the birds and, you can get a copy of last year’s results too. Why not have your little ones draw a picture of your garden or the park with the different birds they have seen too? Try making a map to show where you spotted each bird.
This event has been taking place for some thirty years. There have been results from nearly 280,000 gardens which gives experts an idea of how bird numbers are diminishing.
It is also great fun, good number practice and you'll feel part of a great effort to keep our local birds. Happy Twitching!
During winter, many of our birds really suffer in the cold weather and many perish as temperatures drop. We may take our birds for granted, but we would miss them if they weren't around. Run a diary project during the cold weather with your little ones. Chart what birds you see them and when, and put our food for them to attract them nea your home and to help them through the winter.
Nut feeders: there are all sorts of specialist nut feeders available from garden centres and pet shops to attract and feed different species of bird. You can simply hang a cheap nut feeder from a drainpipe or window and they will still come. If the weather is bad, they will become bolder in order to get to the food!
Bird tables: place the food on the table in a good, open position, near to trees in case a predator comes or cover is needed, but away from the fence that a cat might use as a springboard to get to the table! Make sure you can observe it from your window so that you and your children can enjoy watching the birds come and go.
Keep bird tables and feeders well stocked: if you decide to start helping the birds by providing food, try to keep it up throughout the winter so they can rely on your home to provide them with food throughout the winter rather than just for the first few days! Have your children help you put out food each day.
Water: A bowl of water (rather than ice!) is useful as during the icy months usual sources of water to drink become icy and frozen solid - rendering them useless. Bird baths are also essential for birds to clean their wings and rid themselves of any muddy debris that may have come attached. When their wings are not washes properly, they have trouble flying. Float a small plastic ball in the water to try to help it from freezing over. If it does freeze, break the ice and replace it with fresh water.
Spot any bird tracks (or any other animals for that matter!) in the snow and get the children outside (wrapped up warm!) to look at their environment.
Encourage your children to get involved in whatever way they can. Looking after nature is important and looking after our birds is easy and rewarding when you see them enjoying your food and flying around the wintery garden.
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