Help birds through the heatwave


With temperatures across the UK soaring past 30°C this week, the RSPB is asking people to give birds a helping hand in the hot conditions by leaving out a supply of fresh water.

The sizzling conditions could leave the countryside depleted of its natural water sources, meaning birds will be left desperately searching for alternatives. By leaving out a supply of fresh, clean water, gardens can offer birds with the vital resource they need to survive the arduous conditions.

Birds need water for two reasons: drinking and bathing. Unlike mammals, birds don't have sweat glands, but they still lose a lot of water through respiration and in their droppings in the extreme heat. Therefore it's crucial they have access to fresh water to rehydrate. In addition to drinking water, water to bathe in is just as important for birds. Bathing is essential to their daily routine, helping them to keep their feathers in good condition so they remain warm and waterproof.

Bathing is crucial for birds to to keep their feathers in good condition (CJ Wormwell).

Chris Calow, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: "While we sit back and relax in the outside with an ice-cold drink, generally revelling in an unusually sunny weather, our garden birds might not be having such a good time. The hot weather could be causing natural water sources to dry up, meaning our favourite garden birds like European Robins, Blue Tits and Blackbirds could be left without anything to drink.

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"Turning your outside space into a home for nature by doing simple things like topping up your birdbath, creating a makeshift pond from a washing-up bowl or putting down a saucer filled with water could offer a vital lifeline to some of our much-loved garden birds that are already fighting against declines."

The RSPB's Giving Nature a Home website gives everyone access to expert advice about helping nature in their outdoor space – whether it's a huge garden or a small planting tub on a balcony. To find out more about how you can help birds and other wildlife in your outdoor space, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes.

Garden bird baths attract a great range of common species, from tits and finches to corvids and woodpeckers, like this Green Woodpecker (Jane Rowe).