Pet Gazette DECEMBER 2018 - Page 14

14 | PET GAZETTE | RSPB GOING WILD Caroline Offord discusses how the drop in temperature can affect local wildlife Chris Gomersall ( Ben Andrew ( D from meat roasting tins, please beware that fat from cooking is bad espite being the month associated with the season for birds. The problems occur when meat juices blend with the fat and of goodwill, December can be a cruel month. Wildlife once set, causes smearing, which is detrimental for birds’ feathers, may be hard to fi nd at this time of year, freezing which are vital for their winter survival in not only keeping them warm, temperatures and lack of food or shelter can prove but for fl ight as well. Such fat also includes harmful bacteria, which is challenging for many species, it is not surprising therefore that some bad news for birds, as is the salt used in cooked meats. creatures take advantage of our warm homes. Tell your customers to Water is also essential for birds throughout winter, despite there take a look behind their curtains as they might fi nd an overwintering being all that snow on the ground. Though keeping a bird bath small tortoiseshell or peacock butterfl y. These creatures will do no ice-free is a challenge in itself, customers could try lining the bath harm and it is best to leave them be. Just leave a window open when with a polythene sheet which can then be lifted out along with the the weather gets warmer and they will be on their way. ice or placing a small ball in it, which when With Christmas upon us, your customers’ it moves, will help prevent all of the water cosy homes are soon decorated with glitzy freezing up. tinsel and festive lights. Outside, harsh frosts Very few birds sing throughout the winter and fl urries of snow decorate gardens with months, with perhaps the exception of birds a dusting of sugar-like ice. Holly leaves and like the Christmas card favourite; the Robin, berries snatched by Jack Frost dazzle in the that can sing all year round. Chances are, winter sun. It is clear that even nature knows the only time of year when customers won’t how to decorate throughout the festive hear a Robin is late summer when they are season. Although those brightly coloured moulting and vulnerable to predation. The berry baubles, that adorn hedges and trees song customers hear in mid-December, at this time year, may catch our eye, to wildlife which reaches its crescendo in spring, is they could mean the difference between life dual purpose. It is used not only to attract and death. Winter is the time when nature’s a mate, but also to defend a territory. Other once overfl owing cupboard is now well and birds customers might hear now are Owls. truly bare. Food is scarce and the fi ght for It is at night in woodland from December survival begins in earnest. Starvation and onwards that the elusive Tawny Owl vocally coping with the dramatic drop in temperature proclaims its territory. Males advertise their throughout the winter sadly claims many presence with a distinct hooting call and small garden birds. if customers are lucky, they may hear the Rather than throwing away uneaten classic ‘kee-wick’ call made by both the Christmas cake or half-nibbled mince pies, male and female. Tawny Owls with their why not advise them to put these energy chunky brown body and noticeably large rich crumbs out for the birds and make their head have large jet black eyes that are Christmas! Other food scraps they might want perfect for hunting between dusk and dawn. to consider include dried cereals, chopped up With natural food scarce during the colder apples and pears, dried fruit, potatoes and months, their prey species of mainly mice perhaps a little grated cheese. Whilst they may Paul Sawer ( and shrews, may be hard to fi nd. be tempted to make fat cakes out of the fat December 2018