All sorts of native wildlife can be found living in and around our gardens – and even more kinds are fairly regular visitors. From birds, bees and bugs to occasional bigger beasts such as badgers and deer, the Great British back yard is alive with all manner of creatures – but how much do you know about them?
Try our quick quiz to find out. The answers are at the end, so have fun and good luck!
1. Which of these exotic sounding birds is most likely to be seen in British gardens?
- a) Bee-eater.
- b) Tree-creeper.
- c) Wall-creeper.
2. Who is the smallest of these birds?
- a) Wren.
- b) Robin.
- c) Goldcrest.
3. Which of the following is NOT in the top 10 of most commonly seen garden birds?
- a) Blackbird.
- b) Blue Tit.
- c) Brambling.
4. Which of these birds prefers to nest in groups, rather than alone?
- a) Blackbird.
- b) House sparrow.
- c) Robin.
5. Which common garden bug is actually closely related to seaside crabs and lobsters? ?
- a) Woodlouse.
- b) Ant.
- c) Wasp.
6. Who eats aphids?
- a) Bees.
- b) Ladybirds.
- c) Slugs.
7. What sort of insect is a Devil’s Coachman?
- a) Dragonfly.
- b) Large beetle.
- c) Moth.
8. Where are you most likely to find a whirligig beetle?
- a) Under a stone.
- b) Underneath a leaf.
- c) On the surface of a pond.
- a) A vixen and her cubs.
- b) A she-fox and her pups.
- c) A queen and her kittens.
9. What do you call a lady fox and her young?
10. Should a male badger be called:
- a) A buck?
- b) A boar?
- c) A bull?
11. Squirrels are popular garden visitors, but which kind is really native to Britain?
- a) Red.
- b) Grey.
- c) Both are.
12. Why do hedgehogs hibernate?
- a) The get tired during the summer.
- b) The cold weather makes their natural food very hard to find.
- c) To escape their natural predators.
1. (b) The tree-creeper is the most likely to visit gardens in the UK, since the bee-eater and wall-creeper are both found in southern Europe.
2. (c) The goldcrest; although many people believe that the wren is Britain’s smallest bird – mostly because it used to be on the smallest of the UK’s old coins (the farthing) it is a full half inch longer than the goldcrest, which measures only 3.5 inches (8.75cm). Another little bird, the firecrest, ties with the goldcrest as Britain’s smallest – though it is much less common.
3. (c) The brambling; according to the RSPB’s 2010 “Big Garden Birdwatch”, while blackbirds and blue tits are two of the top ten, the brambling only makes it into the top 30 birds most likely to visit.
4. (b) The house sparrow is fairly unusual amongst Britain’s garden birds because it prefers to nest in small groups. “Sparrow hotel” nesting boxes which allow several pairs to have adjoining boxes – like a row of terraced houses – are ideal.
5. (a) The woodlouse is a crustacean, just like crabs and lobsters; its closest relative at the sea side is an animal called a “slater” – which looks just like the garden woodlouse, but it’s an inch or so long!
6. (b) Both adult Ladybirds and their larvae eat vast numbers of greenfly, making them one of the best gardener’s friends around!
7. (b) The Devil’s Coachman, also known as the Devil’s Coach-horse, or Devil’s Footman in some parts of the country, is a large, black, predatory beetle. Despite its fearsome appearance, it’s another of the gardener’s friends, because it has a taste for slugs – and the link with the Devil is just a bit of folklore.
8. (c) Whirligig beetles spin round and round on the surface of ponds – like a whirligig, of course!
The Bigger Beasts
9. (a) A lady fox is a vixen and her young are known as cubs.
10. (b) Odd though it sounds, a male badger is a boar, while a female is a sow; the young aren’t however, piglets – they’re called cubs too!
11. (a) The red squirrel is the true British native; although it has been here since the mid-19th Century, the grey originally comes from North America.
12. (b) The cold weather makes the hedgehog’s natural food supply – worms, slugs and creepy crawlies – much harder to find and if they didn’t hibernate, they might well starve.
So, How Did You Do?
- All 12 – Wise Owl!
- 7 to 11 – Wily Fox!
- 3 to 6 – Hibernating Hedgehog!
- 0 to 2 – Oh Deer!