The RSPB and Barratt Homes have joined together in order to show four wonderful ways you can encourage and protect wildlife in your garden during the autumn and winter months. The partnership between the conservation charity and the five-star housebuilder is aimed to encourage new homeowners across Northamptonshire to make their new gardens a suitable home for nature during these winter months. They explain four ways those with new homes can do their bit for nature and keep their garden wildlife friendly.

The four tasks explained are designed to get the whole family involved and have been carefully chosen by Barratt Homes Northampton to be practical for those on a limited budget as well as take less than two hours to do. Here, we’ve listed the four ways you can help preserve Britain’s wildlife and make your garden a place all kinds of nature can enjoy.

1. Create and design a bird café
It’s generally more difficult for birds to find food in winter and it’s when they need as much help as possible to survive. A great way to do this as well as enjoy the beautiful spectacle of all kinds of birds in your garden, is to open up a little bird café by buying a bird feeder or a roofed bird table. Put out a mixture of nuts, fruit, seeds and oats and watch the birds enjoy their little meals that keeps them going in the colder seasons.
If you want to see a variety of birds, it’s best to put out a variety of food types since different types of bird like different foods. If you also put the food out regularly, the birds will know (and appreciate) there’s somewhere they can rely on to go to get a meal, especially welcome during those wilder winter days.
Sales director at Barratt Homes Northampton, Alison Raine, said: “The bird café has been chosen as our number one top tip since we think it’s a fantastic way for new homeowners to bring more colour and wildlife into their gardens without having to spend too much time doing so.
“It’s the ideal activity for the family to participate in, it’s easy to do and something to enjoy the whole year round. Birds are fascinating creatures and they should be treasured by us, as well as homeowners being able to observe and enjoy their delightful behaviour up close.”

2. Build a safe hideaway hotel for insects
The weather is getting colder day by day and many bugs and creepy crawlies search for a place to hideaway and keep warm. It doesn’t take much to build a little ‘hotel’ for insects to live in. If you have a larger garden, you could use a couple of old wooden pallets. Otherwise, build all kinds of smaller structures with things like branches, logs, plant pots, roof tiles or even fallen leaves. Make as many spaces, cosy beds as possible and all types of wildlife will be delighted in finding them while knowing there’s a new snug place they can go into when need be during winter.

3. Create a butterfly winter banquetMost butterflies hibernate during the cold winter months with others surviving as eggs, larvae and chrysalis. Yet, with our generally milder winters we now experience, more butterflies can be seen appearing, for a short time, on warmer winter days. Homeowners can help them survive by putting mushy bananas in a place that’s sheltered and around chest high. The more the mashed banana ferments the more the butterflies will love the feast and can stay in your garden for hours.

4. Construct a highway for hedgehogs
Even though it’s late in the year, hedgehogs can still be found out and about during mild winters even though this is generally when they hibernate. It’s why it’s worthwhile creating a hedgehog highway, in other words, a safe passage where our little spiky friends can move from one garden to another. It’s also a great way for you to connect with your neighbours. A simple little hole in a fence can make all the difference to a hedgehog which at night can walk up to a mile. It helps protect them from other animals as they search for that all-important spot to hibernate.
The RSPB’s wildlife gardening expert, Adrian Thomas, said: “There is more recognition nowadays that Britain’s gardens can be a haven for all kinds of wildlife, all it takes is a bit of time and know-how. It really is such a rewarding thing to do, especially since wildlife is struggling and it also brings homeowners great pleasure too.”
For a step-by-step guide to these activities and more, visit the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home.

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