3 Ways to Help Your Neighbourhood Wildlife Beat the Heat
As we begin to experience more extreme temperatures, particularly periods of high heat and drought, the animals and birds that overlap our outdoor living spaces start to suffer from heatstroke and exhaustion.
Although all wildlife have unique ways of physiologically adapting to changes in temperature, most cannot make it through long periods without water, particularly with the fast-paced environmental shifts brought about by global warming.
Here are 3 easy ways to show our care and compassion for the creatures around us by offering a refreshing sanctuary for them on our balconies and in our backyards.
1- Water Fixtures
There are a number of different ways to provide water for outdoor wildlife. Options of different depth and location are ideal if that is a possibility.
Shallow dishes placed above ground are great for small birds, preventing accidental drowning and protecting them from ground-level predators.
Have larger and slightly deeper water fixtures at the ground level for larger birds and other mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Here are different DIY methods for bird water feeders, which can be a super fun activity to do with your kids!: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/39265827978268393/.
However, there are many things available to buy or just find around the house as well. Ceramic bowls, small fountains, and even water misters offering easy and great methods.
Any of the mentioned options with ‘moving water’ are a big bonus, because they are particularly attractive to birds, reduce bacterial and algae growth, and less likely to attract mosquitoes.
Placing your water fixtures in partial or full shade not only prevents water from overheating (which also reduces bacterial and algal growth) and stops excess waste from evaporation, but allows visitors to enjoy refreshment and relief from direct sun at the same time.
Avoid ‘messy’ trees as the shade option if possible, because the water will become contaminated faster and require more frequent changing.
Adding a large chunk of ice to the water on extra hot days will also help keep it viable for longer, and keep things cooler for the little visitors.
Despite these methods, don’t forget to clean and refresh the water a couple of times a week!
Both elevated water fixtures and those that are shaded and tucked away provide some protection to the birds and small animals enjoying refreshment. However, there are additional ways you can make your garden or balcony a safer and more inviting place.
Make sure to place the hangings and bowls in low-traffic areas whenever possible. Also, keeping your domestic animals indoors, particularly cats, benefits both your pets wellbeing and that of the wildlife.
Our cats, cute and cuddly as they are, are notorious murderers.
As there are much higher numbers of felines nowadays, due to their popularity as companion animals, the number of deaths they cause per year has spiked considerably, with recent studies estimating cat casualties in the billions.
Whether to leave us a little doorstep gift (bless them), or for hunting and play, keeping small animals and birds out of our feline clutches also protects us from various diseases, including rabies, that can be picked up from wildlife.
Finally, we would like to make an additional note that if you see a heat-distressed animal (which you can recognize by seeing nocturnal animals during the day, or animals displaying confusion, panting, or collapse), try to contact your local wildlife services, if there are any available.
We would also like to encourage you to check the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, to discover the wide range of species and local protection initiatives that exist!