It’s no surprise that most of the pet owners we meet across our vet practices in Leeds, Manchester and the surrounding areas, are not just fans of their own furry family members, but big animal lovers in general. Indeed, our friendly vets are often the first port of call for injured wild animals found in parks and gardens as well as providing emergency care to the domesticated residents! A day in the life of a recommended vet is certainly never dull!
Many of you may have set up a home for feathered friends in your garden as part of National Nest Box Week, which is a wonderful way to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our national breeding birds and wildlife. Many birds, such as sparrows and blackbirds, which were once a common sight in UK gardens are decreasing in numbers, so using your garden as a mini ‘nature reserve’ can help stop their decline, as well as providing plenty of bird watching fun for the whole family. With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help make your garden appealing to birds and other wildlife – as well as some ideas to help your pets live in harmony with nature!
Think about what you’re planting.
Certain plants and shrubs provide a natural food source for birds, so of course they’ll flock to see you! Think about planting wildlife-friendly vegetation, such as prickly bushes and thick climbers to provide secure cover for birds; trees and hedges are perfect for nesting too, and if you really want to appeal to the feathered population, a readymade home is a great idea – the National Nest Box Week website has lots of DIY tips!
Lay on a feast.
Providing food for wild birds is perhaps the most obvious way to entice them to your garden, and it needn’t cost a fortune. Fat balls, wild bird seed and other treats are readily available in pet shops and supermarkets, though you might need to experiment to see what appeals to your local birds!
Provide a Safe Haven.
If you have a pet cat of your own, or often see other people’s cats in your garden, be sure to place bird food carefully to avoid any CAT-astrophes! Place feeders high off the ground and away from surfaces a cat could jump from. A free standing bird table is ideal, and planting something prickly such as holly at the base should help deter furry climbers!
If your cat is known for chasing birds, consider putting a bell on their collar (Please ensure any collars are snap safe to avoid your cat getting snagged on branches) to give their would-be conquests a fighting chance, and if other people’s cats are making themselves at home in your garden, a microchip cat flap can be a worthwhile investment; and be sure to avoid leaving out food or cat treats that may attract unwanted guests. Sadly, however hard you try to toilet train a cat, sometimes they will still choose to use the garden instead, but the RSPB website has some good ideas for deterrents to try!
Of course cats are renowned for chasing birds, but some dogs like to get in on the act too (though usually with less deadly intent!). If your pooch has a history of bird chasing, make sure their microchip details are up to date just in case they ever stalk a feathered friend too far – the cost of microchipping a dog is tiny compared to the stress of looking for a lost one. Don’t forget, from the 6th April this year it will be a legal requirement to ensure that your dog is microchipped!
Have you taken steps to welcome nature into your garden? Do you have any great photos of local wildlife, or stories to tell about your own pets reacting to garden guests? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on your local White Cross Vets Facebook page!