Weather: Plea for wildlife as freeze continues

SUFFOLK: Don’t forget the wildlife!

That was the plea today from conservation organisations as the big freeze continues to grip the county.

Birds and mammals can have great difficulty in finding enough food in harsh weather like this – and increasing numbers are coming to rely on humans putting out food in their gardens.

Gardens have become an increasingly important habitat for many bird species – and the RSPB said that putting out food in harsh weather could tempt some rarities near your home.

Among the rarer visitors that can turn up in gardens during harsh winters are waxwings, fieldfares, and siskins.

The charity has drawn up a six-point programme to help the birds:

1. Put out feed regularly, especially in severe weather. Set up a bird table and use high calorie seed mixes. This can also be used to put out kitchen scraps such as grated cheese, pastry and porridge oats.

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2. Put out hanging feeders with black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, sunflower-rich mixes or unsalted peanuts.

3. Ensure a supply of fresh water every day. If it is very cold use tepid water but DO NOT use any antifreeze products.

4. Put out fruit, such as apples and pears, for blackbirds, song thrushes and other members of the thrush family.

5. Birdfood bars or fat hung up or rubbed into the bark of trees is a great help for treecreepers, goldcrests and many other species.

6. Put up nest boxes to provide roost sites for the smaller birds. They will then be used for breeding later in the year.

Erica Rowe from the RSPB in East Anglia said: “Gardens are an increasingly vital habitat for birds – and with harsh weather you will find many countryside species coming into gardens to look for food.

“It is vital that people help out with food and fresh water. Birds desperately need access to fresh water when the ground is frozen.”

Oka Last, adviser for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s “Wildline” advice service, said: “Wildlife does need our help when the weather is bad like this and there is much we can all do.

“Feeding birds and ensuring there is enough fresh water is very important – but the best advice for gardeners is to make sure they are not too tidy.

“Birds and mammals need places to shelter at this time of the year and there is nothing better than a patch of weeds or some leaves left in a pile.”

What are you doing to help wildlife? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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