While bulbs are blooming and birds are singing, March can actually be quite a difficult time for garden wildlife.
Temperatures in March can still fall well below zero at night, so invertebrates such as earthworms, green shield bug, beetles and caterpillars may still be taking shelter. Garden birds will have eaten all but the last of the berries, and with less invertebrate food available, they can often go hungry, just at a time when they need to be in good condition for breeding.
March is the key month for breeding amphibians. Frogs start breeding first, laying clumps of jelly-like spawn at the pond edge, joined by toads a couple of weeks later. Toads tend to breed in larger ponds than frogs, and are more likely to return to 'ancestral' pond sites. They lay 'ribbons' of spawn around the stems of submerged plant such as marsh marigold. Finally, newts return to ponds - shine a light into the water at night to see males performing a courtship dance to woo females. Female newts wrap eggs individually in leaves of marginal plants such as water forget-me-not and brooklime.
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Wildlife expert, Kate Bradbury co-hosts this two-part Masterclass with Associate Editor, David Hurrion. Learn how to become a greener gardener and create a wildlife haven in your garden.
The series kicks off with part one on Friday 11 March.
More wildlife gardening content:
- How to create dead wood habitats
- How to make a bird box
- How to dig a pond
- Grow plants for bees
- What to plant in March
Find out how to support your garden wildlife in March, with our list of wildlife gardening jobs, below.
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Leave food for hedgehogs
Leave out water and meat-based cat or dog food for hedgehogs (chicken flavour is best, in jelly not gravy). Hedgehogs are emerging from hibernation in March, and need to build up their fat reserves for breeding. Put out the food from dusk and discard any that's left first thing in the morning. Would you love to attract hedgehogs into your garden? We've found some of the best hedgehog houses to provide our prickly friends somewhere to sleep, nest and hibernate. Here are a couple of our favourites:
- Buy Garden Life Hedgehog House at Thompson & Morgan
- Buy Wildlife World Hogilo Hedgehog Home at Amazon
- Buy hedgehog food from the RSPB, Amazon and Pets at Home
Feed the birds
Continue to feed birds calorie-rich food such as sunflower hearts, fat balls and suet nibbles, to help them prepare for breeding. Avoid peanuts as there's a small chance adult birds will feed them to their young, which can choke them. Read our comprehensive guides to nutritious feeds, bird feeders and bird tables, or shop via our quick links here:
- Buy Extra Select Premium Wild Bird Food on Amazon
- Buy RSPB Favourites at RSPB.org.uk
- Buy RHS Complete Seed Mix Bird Feed on Amazon
- Buy Ring-Pull Large Bird Feeder at Amazon
- Buy RSPB Ultimate Easy-clean Seed Feeder and Guardian at RSPB
- Buy Open Bird Table at RSPB
- Buy Fineway Nordic Bird Table Feeder at Amazon
Gather lawn clippings
If mowing for the first time, detach the box and leave the clippings to dry out, then take them up in a dry corner of the garden. You may encourage a queen bumblebee to start a colony there. Slow worms may bask and even nest here, too.
Add nectar- and pollen-rich plants
Make a note of the plants in flower in your garden and visit your local garden centre to see what's in flower there, to increase your stock of nectar- and pollen-rich plants for pollinators. Learn more about helping bees from winter through to spring.
Add pond plants
Improve your pond for breeding amphibians, by adding plants such as brooklime and water forget-me-not, which newts lay their eggs on, and submerged plants such as hornwort and curled pondweed, which will oxygenate the water and shelter tadpoles from predators. At the same time, removing duckweed and blanket weed (algae) will help to keep your pond in good balance.