The benefit of a cold winter?………

This appears to a ‘vole year’ in my garden.  Everywhere you look, there are voles dashing out of the borders or long grass and picking up peanut crumbs or seeds under the bird feeders.  One is even sitting on my windowsill a lot of the time, picking up seeds that fall from the window feeder.  These are the cutest little mammals and every 6 years or so, generally after a cold winter, there is a boom year.  This will coincide with better survival of young tawny owls and kestrels, as there is more food around for them. Three young tawny owls have been frequently visiting my garden at dusk or calling from the wood next door – a wonderful consequence of last winter’s long term snow cover which protected the over-wintering voles, and therefore increasing the spring breeding population.

About wildlifegardening

Jenny Steel was a Plant Ecologist at Oxford University before becoming a writer. She has more than 20 years experience of writing about and teaching ecology, natural history and wildlife gardening. She is also a photographer, journalist and former plant nursery owner, and a lecturer and tutor in adult education. She has appeared on a variety of radio and television programmes including Gardener’s World with Alan Titchmarsh, and she presented a series of items on the BBC 2 gardening show, How Does Your Garden Grow. She has worked with and written for a variety of organisations including the Royal Horticultural Society, Natural England, Atropos, Ernest Charles, the Adult Residential Colleges Association (ARCA), Haiths, Usborne Books, Complete Gardens, Oxfordshire County Council, the charity Growing Native and several of the Wildlife Trusts. She is also the Garden Bird Guru for the wild bird food company JustAddBirds of which she was a co-founder. The Emmy Award winning film company Panache Productions are currently making a film about her wildlife garden in South Shropshire. She has written 10 books on wildlife gardening. Her website can be found at and her bird food company at
This entry was posted in British mammals, Garden Birds, Gardening, Uncategorized, Wildlife Gardening. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The benefit of a cold winter?………

  1. Rob says:

    I hadn’t connected snow and its protection of voles. Our tawnies are very vocal – presumably enjoying abundant voles in our meadow. An interesting post.

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