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Wildlife gardening

What plants are best for wildlife? Do different colour feeders attract different birds? Your wildlife-gardening questions are answered by our experts.

I have noticed there are no nuts and acorns this autumn. How will this affect our animals over the winter and could bird feed help to sustain them?

A wild bird irruption (a large irregular migration) often indicates an issue with a food source. Jays migrating into the UK is a sign that their favourite food, acorns, is in short supply on the continent More...

How can I provide shelter for garden birds in really cold weather?

That is really cold, and naturally we feel desperate to help our garden birds when temperatures sink so low. However, as far as providing shelter is concerned, then birds usually choose evergreens, thick bushes and hedges for night-time roosts. More...

I usually have goldfinches in my garden, about 2 weeks ago they stopped coming. What can have happened?

While there are many reason birds may not be appearing on feeders in gardens, the most likely cause is that there is enough wild food for them. More...

How can I make an old bus shelter wildlife-friendly?

It's a great idea to convert the shelter to a wildlife haven. While I think it would be a little too low for owls or birds of prey to use it, the inside would be ideal for swallows. By placing a number of ledges or swallow nesting cups close to the ceiling, you could encourage several pairs to nest. More...

What food can I put out for waxwings?

Is there any food I can put out specifically for waxwings? I currently have 18 coming into my garden each day. They have been feeding on a white berried sorbus, but have almost stripped it of the berries. More...

My new bird table has a red roof but the birds will not use it. Are they colour-blind?

My new bird table has a red roof but the birds will not use it. Are they colour-blind? More...

We've seen a hedgehog out during the day. Is there a problem?

We have a hedgehog in the garden which we see during the day. Is this a problem, as normally they only appear at night? More...

Are slow-worms suitable to keep as pets?

Are slow-worms suitable to keep as pets? More...

What is the best time for cutting back Leylandii with nests in?

What is the best time for cutting back Leylandii with nests in? More...

Can you tell me when frogs hibernate?

I have a lovely easy to manage garden with lots of rocks and troughs and gravel but I am mortified of frogs. I know they do a good job but it stops me enjoying my garden can u tell me when they sleep or hibernate as to come across one scares me to death if I know when to expect them to jump i will be ready to get out of way as I dont want to harm them. Please advise me of their action and when they will emerge. Thank you. Dorothy - a 70 year old pensioner. More...

We have a very strange looking nest in our loft. It almost looks like plastic. What can it be?

I think you can rule a bird out of the list of suspects. The common wasp frequently builds its nest in roof cavities as well as underground burrows and tree cavities. More...

Today we have had a flock of blackbirds feeding in the garden on the hawthorn berries. Where will they have come from? Normally we have just the odd pair.

Today we have had a flock of blackbirds feeding in the garden on the hawthorn berries. Where will they have come from? Normally we have just the odd pair. More...

I saw a golden brown animal with whitish belly in our garden today in East Kilbride, about 6 inches long. Would it be a stoat or a weasel?

I saw a golden brown animal with whitish belly in our garden today in East Kilbride, about 6 inches long. Would it be a stoat or a weasel? More...

Is this time of year ok to trim/top trees?

I have some very very large conifers at bottom of my garden. They are are taller than my house and need at least 10 to 15 foot taking off them. There are magpies, woodpigeons, robins, blackbirds and, don't snigger, a blue parrot! Is this time of year ok to trim/top these trees? We dont want to disturb any of the resident birds but we really need to trim these trees this year. Any ideas please? More...

I have an almost empty pond covered with, I think, duckweed. Should I fill with water or wait for rain?

I have a natural pond in my garden and because of the dry conditions, it is almost empty with just mud covered in green stuff (I think duck weed). Should I fill with water with a hose or wait for rain? I know I have newts in the pond, but no fish. More...

If you have deadly nightshade in your garden, will it poison the birds?

If you have deadly nightshade in your garden, will it poison the birds? More...

We have found lots of small (about 1cm) amphibians. Could they be toads rather than frogs?

We have found lots of small (about 1cm) amphibians which we think are frogs. These have been found under a damp plant in our garden and is well shaded. We have no pond in garden and as far as we are aware, there are none nearby. Could these be toads rather than frogs? More...

I wish to encourage swifts and house martins to nest in my eaves but am unable to do so because of telephone wires. Is there any way I can get BT to move them?

On the boundary of my garden there is a BT Post with 15 telephone wires coming off it and going to separate houses. There are four over my front garden. I wish to encourage swifts and house martins to nest in my eaves but am unable to do so because of the wires. Is there any way I can get BT to move some, or all of them? More...

A slow worm appeared in our garden yesterday. Please can you tell me: 1) Do they bite? 2) Do they eat frogs? 3) Should it be moved somewhere more suitable than my garden?

A slow worm appeared in our garden yesterday. Please can you tell me: 1) Do they bite? 2) Do they eat frogs? 3) Should it be removed to somewhere more suitable than my garden? I know they are protected and having cleared an overgrown part of my garden, I'm concerned that it won't have the correct habitat anymore. More...

We live in Arlesey in Bedfordshire, and have found at least eight slow worms living in our garden. Are they rare in this area?

We live in Arlesey in Bedfordshire, and have found at least 8 slow worms living in our garden. Are they rare in this area? More...

Why does the noise from my neighbour not bother insects - they can hear, can't they?

I have a DIY crazed neighbour. The constant noise from his stupendous collection of power tools has frightened the birds away from my garden. The self-same racket has, however, had no noticeable effect on the wide variety of insects (some quite rare) who visit my humble plot. Why does not the noise bother the insects - they can hear, can't they? More...

Why am I finding dead frogs in the garden?

Why am I finding dead frogs in the garden? More...

Would the earwigs in my nestbox deter birds from nesting in it?

Is there anything we can use to deter earwigs from going in our nestboxes which will not deter the birds from nesting? If not, would the earwigs stop the birds from nesting in them? More...

What could we plant in place of a box hedge we had to dig up?

We had to dig out a six foot long and high box hedge which was a haven for birds and nests. The snow broke it. What could we plant in place, preferably evergreen and fast growing? The site is partially shaded and near an apple tree. My partner is worried that the birds will miss it. More...

I get ladybirds in my room on and off, but they always seem to die. What can I do to keep them alive?

I live in a small room and especially over the winter, I get ladybirds in my room on and off. At the moment, I've got four of them and they love my lamp but they always seem to die. What can I do to keep them alive? I registered with you for your ‘Homes for Wildlife’ and soon I will get a ladybird box, but will that be enough? More...

Where is the best place to fit a bat box?

Where is the best place to fit a bat box and which direction should it face? More...

I have been told that a couple of rudd would feed upon the mosquito larvae in my pond but am reluctant to introduce fish. What do you advise?

I have just dug a small wildlife pond which has quickly become filled with mosquito larvae. The pond has no tadpoles to feed upon them so I fear a plague will descend upon us soon. I have been told that a couple of rudd would feed upon them but am reluctant to introduce fish. What do you advise? More...

Can you advise me on the best location for a butterfly box and a ladybird box?

I have been given a butterfly box and a ladybird box. Can you advise me as to the best location and aspect to mount these? More...

Where is the best place to find wild reptiles, and is it possible to attract them to one's garden?

Where is the best place to find wild reptiles, and is it possible to attract them to one's garden? More...

I am really worried about my house martins. Why are there so few this year?

I am really worried about my house martins. Every year I have about 50 pairs under my eaves. This year, they were a month late and there are only two pairs. Why is this? More...

Will a mirror in my garden confuse birds?

I'm tempted to put a large mirror in my garden to make it look longer than it actually is (as per gardening programmesprogramme), but I'm concerned that this might confuse the many birds we have in our garden. Do you think this is a good idea or not? More...

Why is a blue tit tapping on our window?

We have a visiting blue tit. It sits in a bush by the window and constantly tries to fly into our house beyond. It sits on the window sill and taps on the window. Is it looking for last year's nest site? If not, why is it trying to get to the same place every day? What should we do to help? More...

Do woodpeckers try to enlarge nesting box holes without any intention of using them?

Do woodpeckers try to enlarge nesting box holes without any intention of using them? More...

How long do the common birds in our gardens live?

How long do the common birds in our gardens live? More...

Do starlings nest in boxes?

Do starlings nest in boxes? I have seen what looks like a starling coming out of a box in a neigbour's garden More...

What is the white powder that pigeons leave on my birdbath?

The pigeons using my bird bath always leave a white powdery substance on the top which looks like talcum powder. What is it? More...

Is it possible for two nestboxes that are close together to be occupied by blue tits?

Last year we had blue tits nesting on a silver birch at the top of our garden. Is it possible to place another nesting box in the near vicinity of the other box or are the blue tits territorial and as such, not tolerant of other nesting tits? More...

How can I stop sparrows picking the grit off my shed's felt roof?

We have a garden shed with a gritted felt roof. House sparrows have discovered this and are stripping the grit from the roof. This morning there were around 30 of them. Can I provide an different source of grit so they will leave my shed alone? More...

When can I paint my house without affecting the house martins nesting there?

I have several house martin nests on my house and want to be absolutely sure that I will do no harm when I repaint my house as the nests will have to be removed. Around what month/date will it be safe to proceed? More...

I have a blackbird nest in my wildly overgrown hedge. The babies have hatched, but how do I know if this is the blackbirds' first brood?

I have a blackbird nest in my wildly overgrown hedge. The babies have hatched, but how do I know if this is the blackbirds' first brood? I noticed somebody asked in March. Is it likely, in June, this will be their last? I am desperate to cut the hedge! More...

Why is a blue tit that is feeding young in one of our nestboxes attacking a blue tit on eggs in another box?

We have two tit boxes about 22m apart. Both boxes are being used. One bird is feeding young and the other is sitting on eggs. Why is the one with the young going in and attacking the other blue tit? Can we do anything? More...

Can I cut down a tree that blackbirds have started nesting in?

We have a conifer tree in our garden which I am planning on cutting down as we are having a new conservatory. A pair of blackbirds have started to build a nest in the tree this week. How long will it take for them to finish the nest, lay eggs, hatch and for the youngsters to fly the nest. In other words when can I safely start to chop down the tree? More...

Is there an easy way to stop starlings nesting in our loft and how much damage would they do if they were left to get on with it?

We have starlings nesting in our loft, is there an easy way to stop them from nesting and also how much damage would they do if they were left to get on with it? More...

Why haven't I seen siskins and redpolls in my garden this winter?

Last year at this time we had quite a number of siskins and redpolls in the garden which came with the goldfinches. Although we have had up to eight goldfinches feeding we have not seen any siskins or redpolls. Is this due to the milder weather? More...

What kinds of shrubs can I plant to help wildlife?

I have to replace two small, wind-damaged shrubs and want to plant ones that will benefit birds and other wildlife. Can the RSPB make any suggestions as to what I ought to be looking for, please? More...

I saw a blackcap in my garden but I thought they were only here in the summer. Was this unusual?

I saw a blackcap in my garden but I thought they were only here in the summer. Was this unusual? More...

If I put up three nestboxes in my garden, will they all be occupied?

I have a garden of approximately 20m x 15m. If I put up a selection of three nestboxes catering for a robin, blue tit and great tit, would only one box be occupied because of territorial disputes, or can territories for these birds overlap? More...

What's been pulling up our lawn... and why?

We have just come back from a two week holiday to find a part of our lawn covered with pulled out tufts of grass. We encourage birds with the garden and feeders, but have never seen this before. It is localised around implanted sleepers and covers about 10 sq mtrs. Very strange. More...

How long does the blue damselfly live once hatched? We have seen many over the hot week.

The life cycle of the dragonflies and damselflies is fascinating as they spend most of their life underwater. More...

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