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We're not the only ones feeling the winter chill!

Last modified: 23 November 2012

Pipistrelle bat hanging on building wall


Image: Chris Gomersall

With winter just around the corner, many of us are turning our thoughts towards the festive season, wrapping up warm and getting cosy in the run up to Christmas.  But the RSPB is urging you not to forget to care for your feathered friends during the cold months! 

You may already feed the birds in your garden, but did you know that October-November is the best time of the year to put up a bird nest box?  Although birds do not breed until spring, they will ‘suss out’ potential nest sites during the winter.  Not only that, but if it’s in the right location a nest box will provide shelter and warmth to roosting birds when they need it most.

“With traditional nesting sites and habitat becoming scarcer, nestboxes are all the more important for birds.” says the RSPB’s Susan Kula.  “If you already have a nest box, now is a good time to give it a quick clean so birds can use it over the winter, or nest in it come the spring.”  If you would like any information about nest boxes, including instructions on how you could make your own, contact RSPB Northern Ireland on 02890 491547 or via Facebook or Twitter @RSPBNI. 

Bats have also been scoping out sites over the autumn, looking for somewhere suitable to hibernate.  Hibernation is important for bats to help them reserve energy and keep warm when temperatures are low and food is limited.  Traditionally, hibernation roosts would have been found in caves and tree hollows, but as bats adapt to the changing environment they now often roost in building soffits, crevices and sheds.  “If you do find roosting bats anywhere in your home or garden, it is important that you do not disturb them”says Robin Moffitt of the Northern Ireland Bat Group. “If you bring a bat out of its hibernation early, you will force it to use up vital energy reserves, which could prove fatal.  Bat roosts are protected by law both when they are in use and when they are vacant, so if you have one it is important that you leave it alone.”  If you think you have bats and would like some advice, or if you discover a bat in difficulty contact the Northern Ireland Bat group on 02890 395264.  

Both the RSPB and the Northern Ireland Bat Group are members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW).  PAW aims to raise awareness of wildlife crime and promote its reporting and enforcement.  If you have any concerns about wildlife crime, please contact your local PSNI station on 0845 6008000.

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