How to Help Backyard Wildlife Survive the Heat

Summer is the hottest season and it’s only getting hotter. While you and I can retreat into air conditioning when temperatures soar high, the wildlife in our backyards don’t have the same option. Extreme heat can mean heatstroke, overexertion, and even death for these animals. Roll out the welcome mat for wildlife by turning your backyard into a cool, inviting sanctuary where you both relax and can stay out of the heat.

You’ll need two important things: Water and shade.

how to help backyard wildlife



Water is one of the most important elements in keeping backyard animals cool and hydrated. Animals like birds not only use water to cool down, but to help keep their feathers clean. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, toads, and turtles will all stop for a sip on a hot summer day. Even insects like bees and butterflies need access to water, often returning to the same source day after day once they find it.

Birdbaths are a simple way to add a reliable water source to your yard. All you need is a container, cleaning brush, and water. You can purchase a pre-made bird bath, or you can make your own.

  • A bird bath can be made from any container that can hold water. To accommodate both large and small species, choose a variety of containers with different depths. Choose containers no bigger than 3 inches deep for smaller birds and size up for larger ones. Add extremely shallow dishes for butterflies, bees, and other insects to sip from. If your container is too deep, add a layer of rocks to the bottom for birds and insects to stand on while taking a drink.
  • While you can use any container, try to choose one where the interior is textured. This will help the birds get a foothold while in the bath. Much like you would if the bird bath was too deep, if you can’t find a textured container, add a layer of rocks to bottom.
  • Set up your birdbath near shrubs or trees, or select locations where there is easy access for animals to find shelter to avoid predators.
  • Keep it clean! Regularly cleaning bird baths is a necessity in the summer not only to keep the water fresh and healthy, but to prevent mosquitos from breeding in the standing water. Use a stiff scrubbing brush to remove bird droppings and algae from the inside of the bath, rinse and refill with fresh water.
  • Add moving water. Moving water attracts birds due to the splashing and reflections on the water. “The sound of moving water like a stream or even water slowly dripping into a basin or against a rock or foliage will attract many species of birds,” says Mark Kiser, Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail coordinator. The moving water also helps to slow the growth of algae and discourages mosquitoes from breeding.


how to help backyard wildlife stay cool


Many animals will seek shelter during the hot times of the day to help them cope with summer temperatures. Add shaded areas to your yard by creating tiered landscaping and adding vegetation along buildings for more shelter. “Native trees, shrubs and vines are particularly useful in the landscape to provide shade, shelter and food for birds,” says Angel Wintrode, president of the Bi-State Wildlife Hotline of Missouri and Illinois. “A dense, fruiting shrub, for example, can provide all three at the same time.”

Place bird feeders in cool, shaded areas of the yard during summer. Doing so will keep birds cooler while feeding, and prevent seeds and other foods from spoiling. Bird houses should also be mounted in shady locations with air holes to provide circulation. If you can, place houses in breezy areas for additional cooling affects (but not so windy it will knock down the house).

You can also create a brush pile of fallen tree branches in an out-of-the-way area of your yard to provide shade for smaller animals. If you aren’t able to change or add to the existing landscape there are still ways to add shade to your outdoor space. Get creative! Shop at garage sales or thrift shops for containers and make your own shade garden on your balcony or patio. Don’t forget to add some water sources!

Creating a shady sanctuary filled with water sources will provide a place to relax and beat the heat, for both you and backyard wildlife, even on the hottest days.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers1 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Janis K.
Janis K1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Joe Le Gris
Joe Legris1 years ago


Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T1 years ago

Good information, thanks for sharing.

Leo Custer
Leo C1 years ago

thank you for the information!

Janis K.
Janis K1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

sandra vito
Sandra V1 years ago