Simple Tips for Helping Wildlife during Heatwaves

Simple Tips for Helping Wildlife during Heatwaves

How to help wildlife beat the heat

Hot summers and heatwaves seem to be in the forecast for many areas. Most wildlife species are well equipped to stay cool with behavioral and physiological adaptations. But sudden and prolonged heatwaves can take a toll on even the most resilient of wildlife. You can help wildlife beat the heat with these simple tips.

  • Provide plenty of water

Water is the first step when it comes to helping wildlife deal with heatwaves and droughts. There are a number of ways to provide water sources including; birdbaths, fountains, misters, and ponds. When choosing a water feature, try to select something that will accommodate the needs of both small and larger bird species. For instance, bird baths that have different depths or sloped sides will encourage more birds to use it.Help wildlife during heatwaves by providing water

  • Maintain your water sources

Keep your water feature full  and clean them at least once a week to prevent the spread of disease. Daily rinses will help prevent algae and bacteria from growing. To keep the water cool throughout the day you can add a chunk of ice to the birdbath or fountain each morning.

  • Create moving water

Features that create moving water and sounds like drippers, fountains, misters and bubblers attract more birds. Moving water will also inhibit mosquito breeding and it slows down bacterial and algal growth. You can create a drip feature by hanging a clean plastic container with a small hole in the bottom over your bird bath.

  • Additional water-filled containers

Placing containers on the ground can provide water for many critters like ground squirrels. Use containers of different depths to accommodate animals of different sizes and put rocks in the containers so that they can get out if they fall in. Be sure to clean these regularly and put them in areas that offer protection from predators and pets.

  • Help the pollinators

Bees (and many other pollinators) need a steady supply of water to survive. Put out shallow dishes of water with pebbles or rocks for bees to safely drink water. Your garden can also be a year-round food source for pollinators with native plants that bloom in different seasons.

Provide water to bees during heatwaves


  • Remember the hummingbirds

Plant flowers in your garden that attract and feed hummingbirds. Feeders are good substitutes when natural supplies are low. Make sure to change the sugar mixture every four days and more often if the temperatures exceed 90 degrees. Regular cleaning will prevent fermentation, mold and bacterial growth. Learn how you can make your own sugar mixture.

  • Shade and shelter

Provide shade and shelter with native trees, shrubs, vines and plants. Landscaping with native plants will provide food, shelter and shade for wildlife.

  • Recognizing heat-stressed wildlife

Heat stressed animals can show the following signs; confusion, lethargy, panting, abnormal behavior (out during the day when they are nocturnal etc.) and won’t move away when approached. Call a local wildlife rehabilitation center to get advice on the best approach to help the animal.

  • Keep pets indoors

Keeping pets inside will not only be cooler for them but will also keep them away from vulnerable wildlife.

  • Plan for next year

If your garden is lacking shade, you can start planning and planting now to provide better shade next year. You can also look to see if your bird houses and feeders need to be moved to an area that has more shade. Ideally, bird houses should be mounted in shaded locations and have ventilation holes to help with air circulation. Feeders that are in the shade will prevent food from spoiling and offer some protection from predators.

More from the True Wildlife Blog and Resources:

Ways to help bees (and other pollinators)

I found a baby bird, what should I do?

I found a baby mammal, what should I do?

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Ways to help bees (and other pollinators)

Ways to help bees (and other pollinators)

Bees play a crucial role in the ecosystem and is responsible for pollinating 30% of the global food supply.

Unfortunately, they face many serious threats including: habitat loss, disease and pests (like Parasitic tracheal mites and the Varroa mites), climate change, pesticides and invasive plants.

There are many ways to help bees overcome these threats, regardless of where you live.

Plant pollinator friendly gardens

  • Plant native plants
  • Plant gardens that provide food at different times of the year
  • Make sure the plants and flowers you purchase are not treated with pesticides.
  • You don’t need a lot of space to plant nectar rich food (flowerpots are great too!)
  • Plant trees, they provide food and shelter to pollinators and wildlife

Less lawn!

  • Reduce the size of your lawn or replace it altogether with pollinator friendly plants, shrubs and flowers.

No Spray

Pesticides are bad for people, wildlife and pollinators. Eliminate pesticide use in your yard.

Organic farmers are great resources if you have questions about pesticide alternatives

Bee Habitats

  • Provide solitary bees with bee block condos or leave dead trees/branches in your yard for them to live in
  • Designate an area in your yard for ground nesting bees like bumblebees

Bee Baths

Provide your pollinators with a water source. There are many inexpensive ideas to make bee baths like using a shallow bird bath.

  • Place the bee bath in a shady area
  • Put something in the bee bath like rocks to prevent them from drowning
  • Make sure to change the water frequently

Buy local and support local beekeepers

Buy honey from local beekeepers to support pollinators in your area.

Bee Swarms

Call your local beekeepers if you see a swarm. They will be happy to give the swarm a place to stay!

Help bees, contact beekeepers to catch swarms

Become a Beekeeper

Beekeeping is a very rewarding experience and there are many classes you can take to learn the basics.

You can also learn about keeping mason bees or leafcutter bees!

Extra Resources

The National Wildlife Federation have great resources to find native plants for your area:

The Pollinator Partnership has an array of resources that focus on pollinators: