Now the festive period is over and we have all filled ourselves up on chocolate, cake and Christmas turkey we think it is time to spare a thought for some of the wildlife we share our lives with. We might not see these creatures very often, or we might just not pay them much attention but getting involved in helping them through the tougher times of winter can be great for kids. Kids reap the benefits by learning all about the secret world in their garden, learning how to care for others and building some practical skills too.
Probably the easiest place to start is to make some bird feeders. If you type DIY bird feeders into your search engine there will be reams and reams of ideas. If you want to be more creative then try out Pinterest for ideas. At this time of year natural food is becoming scarce so garden feeders are vital fuel stations for our small song birds to top up. Once you have made your feeders then hang them somewhere you can easily see them. If you sit and wait the birds will arrive and entertain for hours, you might even get to know a few individuals. We used to have Jack Sparrow visit us regularly. He was a little peg leg sparrow who used to stop in whatever the weather and was always popular with the gang he hung around with. The boys loved spotting him and they would often shout ‘Jack’s back!’ from the front room.
If your little one loves to transfer water, as many do, then filling up the bird bath will be easy peasy. A bird bath doesn’t have to be anything fancy either, it can be as simple as an upturned dustbin lid. Not only will it be somewhere for the birdies to have a bath it will also be an important drinking source. If it is close to the ground it won’t just serve birds either, mice, badgers and squirrels might even use it too.
If you are feeling practical then have a go at building a nest box. You can find plans on the internet and this could be a great project if your kids enjoy building things. Believe it or not but birds will already be scoping out places to start a family so putting up a nest box now means the birdies should have plenty of time to find it. If you want to get really technical get yourself a nestbox camera kit and come spring you won’t need CBeebies or Frozen for entertainment, the nest box will provide plenty while you wait for the little eggs to hatch, watch Mum and Dad busy feeding the little chicks and then wait on the edge of your seat for each one to finally fledge the nest.
Improve your garden for wildlife by planting some berry laden plants and spring bulbs for early nectar. If you have the room plant a fruit tree such as an apple tree and the blackbirds will cover your garden during the autumn, mopping up all the excess fruit. The lovely thing about planting with kids is that they get to see something grow over time and then get to enjoy it once it is fully grown. Growing a tree needs some commitment so it could be a good one to get the kids thinking about how they will remember to water it, mulch it and prune it.
If you are lucky enough to have badgers in the garden (or maybe unlucky if they dig up all your plants!) then take advantage of it and put out some peanuts for them. Come dark turn out the lights and sit at the window watching to see if they hoover them all up. Badgers love peanuts but if you don’t have badgers then the squirrels will provide plenty of entertainment too. Watch as they scurry back and forth picking up the nuts and burying them around the garden.
Winter is a brilliant time to start watching wildlife and spending some time looking after it will provide added satisfaction to the experience.
My featured post for this week is Wild Family Fun’s Adventures when the winter weather sets in. We loved this post so much we featured it on our December Outdoor Play Roundup. We think learning to rock climb is a fantastic skill to learn with so many benefits and you don’t even need to brave the cold to give it a go.