There are a few, very simple things that’ll make your garden, balcony or even windowsill a spot that wildlife will want to flock to: food, water and shelter. The latter is, likely, more relevant to a garden, where shrubs and trees will offer both birds and mammals somewhere to feel safely out of sight of the neighbourhood cat as they suss out the food situation. But, even on a balcony, you can create welcome shelter with a few taller or climbing plants. Water can be as simple as a saucer or shallow bowl; the most important thing is that it’s clean and, if it is deep, that there’s an easy way for wildlife to climb out.
Food (especially for birds) is probably the easiest thing for anyone to offer as there are lots of feeder options out there for every situation, from clear ones that sucker to your window and designs that can be attached to walls, through to all-singing, all-dancing tables and hangers for lawns. Either way, try to include a variety of foods as, generally speaking, birds are either insect-eaters (like robins – choose mealworms for these), seed-eaters (sparrows) or a bit of both (tits). Birds need suitable fatty and protein-rich foods year-round, so those with a high proportion of peanuts, suet and high-energy sunflower hearts are best.
If you have a problem with grey squirrels on your bird feeders (or if you’re lucky enough to have red squirrels that you want to feed), try both squirrel-proof feeders (for the birds) and a dedicated specialised peanut feeder for the squirrels themselves to attract them away.
And if you have hedgehog visitors? A low bowl of meaty dog or cat food on the ground will do in a pinch (hedgehogs will eat most anything, and bruised fruit from the kitchen is fine too), but a well-balanced hedgehog food is best. Just steer clear of dairy as hedgehogs are lactose-intolerant. Autumn’s an especially important time to feed them, while they build up their fat stores ready for hibernation, but do put food out if you see any about over winter, as they can sometimes wake up early or be late to hibernate in a mild year.