Turn your backyard into a winter haven for wildlife | BC SPCA
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Turn your backyard into a winter haven for wildlife

December 3, 2018

Before you bundle up and head outside for that last mow and rake of the season, take a moment to consider the wild animals you could be helping just by putting off your usual fall yard work.

Wild red squirrel eating mini pinecone on log
Photo credit: Jill Philipchuk

Sound too good to be true? “Believe it or not, you can do a great service to wildlife by letting your lawns and gardens get a little ‘wild’ themselves,” says Meghann Cant, animal welfare educator for the BC SPCA.

Winter is a tough season for wild animals. Deep snow and freezing temperatures make finding food and shelter a daily struggle. “Wildlife has adapted to the changes brought on by the season,” says Cant. “But survival is still a challenge.”


Lend a helping hand in your own backyard by doing (or not doing!) the following:


  • To mow or not to mow. Long grass can shelter overwintering insects. Come spring, the bugs will be protein-rich food for baby birds.
  • Just a litter bit. Piles of leaf litter can provide a place for animals such as frogs to hibernate.
  • The need for seed. Allowing plants to go to seed can feed hungry birds spending the winter here. Seed heads can also house overwintering insects.
  • Let it bee. Old plant stems make great homes for a variety of overwintering insects, including bees. The dead stalks can also serve as construction materials for birds beginning to build their nests in the spring.
  • Brush up. Brush piles can give dense cover to animals such as chipmunks, marmots and hares, as well as protection to overwintering insects.
  • Break the ice. Keeping a hole open in your pond can provide birds and mammals with a source of drinking water. Instead of breaking the ice, place a container of hot water on the surface to melt it through. Remember to remove any fallen leaves from your pond, too: decaying leaves can harm fish.
  • Rock it. Rock piles, especially when positioned near water, can provide habitat for snakes, frogs and other reptiles and amphibians.

Extra season tips:


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