No balcony or garden? Nine ways to experience nature through your window

The RSPB has brought together nine ways to make the most of your window during the current lockdown while giving back to nature at the same time.  

The coronavirus lockdown has made many of us look to the nature on our own doorstep for exercise, wellbeing and mental stimulation.

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This may seem harder if you don’t have a garden or a balcony – but there are still lots of things you can do to bring nature to you, and help struggling wildlife at the same time:

1) Hang (and make!) bird feeders – putting out food for birds is a great way to attract them to your window. You can buy feeders to stick to your window, or there are several ways to make your own bird feeders using household items– you can use suet as ‘glue’ to stick seed to an old paper towel roll, fill an orange peel with seed, or simply leave your kitchen scraps on the windowsill! Make sure to check they’re safe for birds first though – anything salted, for example, could be toxic.

2) Take up birdwatching – wherever you live, it’s likely there are birds. And the great thing about birdwatching from your window is that you only need your eyes and ears to do it! You could even think about keeping a journal of what birds you see, and their habits and noises – you’ll soon start to recognise the characters in the feathery soap opera. The RSPB bird identifier can be a good place to start.

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3) Put up bird boxes – many birds are finding it harder and harder to find a home, but you can help by attaching bird boxes to a wall on the side of your house, preferably facing between north and east – you could even try making your own! Swifts, for example, are now arriving from Africa for the summer, and will be looking for places to stay. Putting up swift boxes means you’ll be able to help these enchanting migrant birds.

4) Grow your own food – if your windows have internal ledges, consider upcycling your egg cartons and planting seedlings in them. Tomatoes are a good place to start, so the next time you’re cutting one up for a sandwich save some of the seeds and see how they grow! This reduces the carbon footprint of your food as well as brightening up your window.

5) Establish a bug hotel – these will work particularly well if you’re on the ground or first floor. You can upcycle an old soft drink bottles by filling it with twigs, bark, rocks, and hollow bamboo canes or straws and dangling it outside your window. See what sort of bug life you can attract!

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6) Put up a butterfly house – butterflies are struggling in the UK, but you can help by putting up a butterfly house. Much like with a bug hotel these will work best in a window that’s closer to ground-level, and you can make it even more attractive to butterflies by hanging it near pollen-rich plants! Which brings us to number seven…

7) Hang insect-friendly plants – if you’re able to hang planters by your window you might want to consider hanging insect-friendly plants. As well as being beautiful, they can also provide essential pollen to struggling insect life. Many of these plants can serve a third purpose in that they’re delicious for humans! Dwarf runner beans, oregano, and thyme, for example, all have flowers full of tasty pollen.

8) Put up a bat box – there are 18 species of bats in the UK, but you’re most likely to see the Common pipistrelle. These tiny birds weigh just 5 grams! By putting up a bat box you’ll be providing a possible home to these struggling pollinators, and you’ll have a chance to see these bats on the fly. You could always try your hand at making one as well.

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9) Provide nesting material – birds use everything from grass to mud to cobwebs to build their nest. You can help by providing some material! Place pieces of plant material on your windowsill, or even your pet’s hair (as long as they haven’t been recently treated for fleas or another medical condition).

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