Michaela Strachan's wildlife challenge

Michaela Strachan Take some time to feed wildlife on your green patch, says Michaela Strachan

One way to help the wildlife in your garden or local green spaces to flourish is by feeding them.

This challenge is not just about putting out what you think mammals, birds and insects need to survive, but discovering their real dietary requirements.

Just leaving fresh water out can make a real difference.

Providing food is a great way to encourage wildlife into your space so you can learn more about animal behaviour.

Did you know?

The number of bird species recorded feeding on supplementary bird food in our gardens has risen from 8 to 130 over the last 15 years.

The food you put out can really help an animal survive particularly during harsh weather or at times when its natural food sources are scarce.

A varied menu will attract a number of different species to your garden through the seasons. Here are a few favourites:


Hedgehogs are insectivores, mainly eating insects, beetles, slugs and worms.

If you have hedgehogs in your garden, the best thing to put out for them is dog or cat food with a high meat but low cereal content, or cooked chopped meat.

Avoid fish-based cat foods which can go off quickly and only put out a small amount otherwise you will attract pests - and pets!

Start Quote

Just leaving fresh water out can make a real difference.”

End Quote Michaela Strachan, presenter of Springwatch and Britain's Big Wildlife Revival

Planting brightly coloured flowers will attract most insects and butterflies are also very fond of over-ripe banana.

Hang a bamboo cane from some twine and cover the ends with a small amount of sugar solution. Please note that earlier advice to use watered down jam or honey is incorrect and should not be followed. Honey, especially if it is not British, may transmit two diseases that can infect and destroy honey bee colonies. So to avoid unwittingly passing this disease to our native bees, make a sugar solution only using white granulated sugar and water.

Don't overdo the sweet stuff though as it may attract a swarm rather than a few you can see easily. Some insects might even chew through the cane and end up making it their home.


Garden birds love seeds and nuts. Favourites are sunflower hearts, nyger and unsalted peanuts. They also love mealworms, fruit and hard fats like suet.

Make your own fat ball or loaf, using fat, seeds, cooked rice and a bit of chopped cheese but be careful not to leave it out for too long in hot weather so it does not turn rancid.

Water and hygiene

It's also important to provide water for birds and animals to drink or bathe in. Water dishes and feeders clean to prevent the spread of disease and it's best to clean them outside with separate washing up sponges.

If the food you put out isn't being finished every day, reduce the amount and pick up any food that's on the ground to avoid attracting rodents.

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Bear in mind that the animals you are feeding are wild so put food out in a quiet place and try to keep your distance so that they don't become used to humans.

Make a to do list for feeding wildlife..

If you have a garden visitor and you're not sure what to feed them, check the BBC Nature guide to what to feed wildlife this summer.

And if you can't tell what you're watching, we have in depth information about a host of animals and plants in the UK.

There are pictures and videos of 47 mammals that live in our country and 134 British birds, including geese, raptors, songbirds and seabirds.

We also have a selection of identification guides, to help you recognise the animals you've spotted: try our ID guide to amphibians, or ID guide to reptiles.

We can also help you tell birds of prey apart, or help you distinguish your swallows, swifts and martins.

You can also visit the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) for more tips on spotting birds, or use iSpot, an online community of experts that can help you identify the wildlife you've seen.

Finally, be sure to share any photographs you take on the BBC Summer of Wildlife Flickr group. As part of our See it, Snap it, Share it challenge, we're hoping to reach 100,000 photographs that document the state of our UK wildlife in the summer of 2013.

All summer we'll be hosting an online conversation around the Summer of Wildlife. Follow BBC Nature on Facebook and Twitter @BBCNature. Join in and share your own Summer of Wildlife experiences and get the latest news and updates about the wildlife near you.

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