Welcome to the final post for this year in our nature gardening series.
Throughout this year we’ve been partnering with RSPB to support their ‘Give nature a home in your garden’ campaign. 60% of the UK’s wildlife species have seen a decline over the last fifty years, and the RSPB campaign aims to encourage us all to take small, achievable steps to help nature in our own green spaces.
We’ve been having a go at some of RSPB’s nature gardening activities to help support local wildlife in our garden and allotment, and having lots of outdoor family fun into the bargain. We’ve planted wildflower seeds to attract pollinating insects, grown plants to make our garden a haven for butterflies and moths, and built a home for frogs & toads.
This month, we’ve been building a simple bird bath to help our feathered garden visitors.
We tend to think of summer as the season to provide wild birds with a source of water, and it’s true that the warmer months can make natural sources of water scarce. But in winter those sources can easily freeze up, leaving birds struggling to find fresh water. Providing a bird bath in your garden and keeping it topped up and free of ice is a great way to support your local wild birds, and encourage them to pay you a visit.
Obviously you can buy a bird bath for your garden, but it’s simple and fun to make your own. We used the RSPB Make the Perfect bird Bath activity sheet, which has step-by-step instructions.
To make a bird bath that’s safe and accessible, it’s important to get the shape right. It needs to have shallow, sloping sides, be as wide as possible, and have a maximum depth of 10cm. An old dustbin lid or large shallow plant saucer are both good options.
Next, we chose a good spot to build our bird bath. You need to position it in an open space, so that birds have a good view all around, and predators such as cats can’t hide within pouncing distance. Ideally there should also be bushes or trees nearby, so that birds can dart into them for cover. We went for a position on the lawn that was close to our magnolia tree.
To build our bird bath, we laid out four bricks to create a square shape in the middle.
Then we positioned our saucer on top of the bricks, making sure that it sat securely without wobbling around.
It’s important that the inside of the bird bath isn’t too smooth, to prevent birds slipping into the water. We added some pebbles to the bottom of the saucer to provide grip.
The last step was to fill the bath with water.
The kids are really keen to be responsible for checking our new bird bath regularly. If the water gets low they can top it up, and if it freezes over they can add some warm water to defrost it, or remove the ice and add some more water. It’s worth saying that you should never use salt or de-icer to defrost bird baths!
Now that our bird bath is in place, we’re going to make some of our homemade bird feeders to really turn our garden into a winter haven for wild birds.
Making our bird bath was super-quick and really easy. At this time of year it can be hard to find garden activities to keep the kids busy, but this little project was a great way to get them outdoors and engaging with nature. We’re really looking forward to spotting some new visitors to the garden over the coming months.
Have you been gardening for nature this year? I’d love to hear about your projects in the comments – and if you’d like some ideas for family-friendly nature activities, you can get a free personalised plan on the RSPB website. Just put in your postcode and the size of your garden to generate tips on how to help wildlife where you live.
We’ll be carrying on our partnership with RSPB next year, so look our for some more family nature gardening on the blog soon.