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Q&A

Iolo Williams’ Top 8 Bird and Wildlife Care Tips

Iolo Williams is a naturalist and TV presenter who is passionate about biodiversity and wildlife. We’ve been working with Iolo on our a Home for All campaign, and here’s his top tips to boost biodiversity in your garden…

1. Most people don’t realise that bread can be harmful for birds. It offers very little nutrition and can fill up a bird’s stomach. You should put out a variety of high energy foods, such as fat balls, peanuts, mixed seeds and sunflower hearts, all of which are available at your local Homebase store. The wider the variety of foods, the more birds you’ll attract to your garden


2. Winter, not spring, is the best time to put up nest boxes for birds. This gives them plenty of time to get used to the boxes before the start of the breeding season. Place boxes on trees or walls out of reach of people and cats, and avoid placing them on hot, south-facing walls. A variety of boxes are available at Homebase store


3. Water is just as important as food for the birds and other wildlife. Water is essential for birds to clean their feathers as well as to drink. A small garden pond is ideal, but a bowl of water or even an upturned bin lid will suffice. Water is also important for mammals such as hedgehogs, whereas milk is very harmful and can cause diarrhea and sickness


4. Many people cut ivy from trees, believing that it kills its host. In fact, ivy is merely using the tree for support and is one of the most beneficial plants for wildlife. It’s an evergreen and as such, provides shelter for several species of birds, insects and mammals throughout the year. It flowers in late autumn and is therefore an important late food plant for pollinators and a the berries ripen in late winter, a time when there is precious little natural food around. Birds such as wood pigeons, blackbirds and overwintering blackcap love ivy berries. Native ivy can be bought at Homebase and should be planted beneath a wall or a tree


5. If you have a very small garden, or even just a balcony, you can still make a difference. Growing potted plants such as lavender and mint is excellent for bees and other pollinators. You can also grow climbing plants such as honeysuckle against the railings. These provide nectar and pollen for insects, berries for birds and the dense growth is great for nesting and roosting birds

6. Why not make more of your lawn by allowing native flowers to grow unhindered and even sowing a variety of wildflower seeds? Homebase sells wild seed mixes that can be used for this purpose. The flowers are perfect for bees, butterflies and other insects, and the seeds attract birds such as goldfinch, siskin and bullfinch

7. Grow a hedge. Plant native trees and bushes such as whitethorn, blackthorn, hazel, spindle, guelder rose and holly. These give nest sites for birds such as dunnocks, robins and blackbirds, food and shelter for so many invertebrates, birds and mammals and provide wildlife corridors for hedgehogs and bats


8. Plant a small orchard. Apple and pear trees attract hundreds of bees when they are in full blossom in spring and some of the fruits can be left out for thrushes and other wildlife over the autumn and winter months