In the next few weeks we will have officially entered our busiest season when the number of animals admitted to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, in Nantwich, Cheshire, increases dramatically.

It is the same for us every year and we prepare as best we can for a surge in admissions. It is never an easy time of year for the team because of the sheer volume of work which goes into looking after the animals. Birds, in particular, increase in numbers at the centre during the Spring months – especially baby birds and many need hourly feeds throughout the day!

There is a lot that you could do at home to look after wild birds and to keep them well-fed and healthy, and with Spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start preparing your garden for birds to use during the warmer months.

We always encourage people to feed birds in their garden and one benefit of this is that you may get to see amazing wildlife close up!

Year-round birds need a bit of help in getting food – in Spring it is a good idea to provide food for adults while they work hard to feed their growing young; in Summer dry and hard ground means it is harder for them to find food naturally; in Autumn they will need extra food to get their bodies ready for the cold months; and in Winter, the harshest months for finding food, they could do with a little extra help from us.

So what to feed them? Bird seed may seem like the obvious choice but there is so much more you could put on the menu, such as:

  • Unsalted peanuts and table scraps, e.g. cooked pasta/rice, boiled potatoes, cheese, uncooked bacon rind

  • Net-free fat or suet balls – these provide a great boost of calories!

  • Apples, pears and soft fruits

  • Mealworms or wax worms

  • Seed and grains, e.g. sunflower, nyjer, millet and oats

Fresh water is essential for birds so make sure your garden birds have access to a supply of clean water. Also make sure the bowls are cleaned – daily ideally – as thousands of birds die every year from diseases contracted through dirty feeders and bowls.

We also recommend that feeders and bowls are kept away from bushes, where predators (particularly cats) may be hiding waiting to pounce.

Feeding wildlife in your garden is incredibly rewarding as well as keeping animals happy and healthy. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go – we guarantee you will love playing a part in helping wildlife!

The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations to exist. It costs the centre £50,000 to feed the 6,500 animals which are admitted every year. Anyone who would like to support the vital work of Stapeley Grange can now donate online at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/rspcahq/stapeleygrange.