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RSPB issues hot weather warning

Last modified: 16 July 2013

Female blackbird bathing in bird bath

Image: Ray Kennedy

The RSPB is asking people to help wildlife in their gardens this week, as the hot weather shows no signs of cooling down. 

While the UK enjoys the sizzling temperatures, experts from the RSPB fear the heat could be causing birds, hedgehogs, bees and other familiar garden wildlife to suffer. 

The nature charity is appealing to people to put out fresh, clean water after reports that wildlife is struggling to cope. 

One call to the charity’s wildlife enquiries line reported blackbirds and pigeons trying desperately to wash and drink from a barely-dripping hose. Blackbirds like to bathe frequently in water to stay cool and keep their feathers in prime condition, bathing also helps keep all birds cool in summer.  

'The hot weather means birds and hedgehogs could be left without anything to drink'

Val Osborne, the head of RSPB’s wildlife enquiries team, said: 'While we all revel in an unusually sunny summer, our garden wildlife might not be having such a good time. The hot weather could be causing natural water sources to dry up, meaning birds and hedgehogs could be left without anything to drink. 

'Turning your outside space into a home for nature by doing simple things like topping up your birdbath, creating a make-shift pond from a washing-up tub or putting down a saucer filled with water could offer a vital lifeline to some of our garden favourites that are already fighting against declines.'

The RSPB is also advising people to put out supplementary food as the hot weather may mean natural supplies, like worms, become scarce. 

Val added: 'When it’s particularly dry, worms tunnel right down into the soil, meaning they become out of reach to the wildlife that usually feasts on them, such as blackbirds, robins, hedgehogs and frogs. 

'If the hot, dry conditions carry on we may see wild plants start to die, meaning bees and butterflies will find it hard. If that happens, our gardens and the well-watered plants in them will become even more important to these insects.'

You can give nature a home

The RSPB has launched a campaign to help tackle the crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. Giving Nature a Home is urging the nation to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces.  

The charity hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature. The launch of the campaign comes after 25 wildlife organisations, including the RSPB, released the groundbreaking State of Nature report revealing 60 per cent of the wildlife species studied have declined over recent decades. 

Many garden favourites were among the creatures shown to be in serious trouble including starlings, hedgehogs, some butterflies and ladybirds. All are in danger of further declines unless more is done to provide better habitats.  

The Giving Nature a Home campaign gives everyone access to expert advice about helping nature in any outside space – whether it’s a huge garden or a small planting tub on balcony.

You can get their free Giving Nature a Home starter guide, pledge support by telling us what you plan to do, and share pictures, tips and ideas with others. You can also find out more about what the RSPB is doing to give nature a home in the wider countryside.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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