Attracting Native Birds to your Garden
EJR PHOTOGRAPHY | Emma Rogers Jan 30 2021
If you've found this blog you either are a good friend of mine and kindly want to support me, or, you are looking for ways to improve the quantity (and potentially quality) of the birds in your garden. Lucky for you there are many simple ways in which you can encourage wild birds to visit your garden and become frequent flyers....
Native birds like native trees. Plant some natives in one area of your garden, you can start small with plants like the native hebe species. These plants will attract bugs and insects and in turn attract natives like the Piwakawaka (fantail.)
A very common NZ site is the Tui on a Harakeke plant. If youre interested in the Tui specifically I would definitely recommend some flax for your garden.
Our native Tui and Korimako (bellbird) as well as the Tauhou's LOVE nectar.
Displaying a nectar feeder or fruit in your garden can give these guys a boost, especially during the cold winter months when they may be running low on energy. It may take them a few days or even weeks to find your feeder but once they do they'll be daily visitors.
By providing an ideal environment for insects to thrive you are basically setting up a restaurant in your garden for small birds like the Piwakawaka (fantail) and Grey warbler. To attract insects create a pile of leaves, wood and garden matter in a corner of your yard.
Good quality seed and energy cakes are the perfect supplement to their natural diets. I have been using the TOPFLITE brand of wild bird food for about two months now and the wild birds in my garden have increased tenfold.
When I first started providing feed it was just heading into Winter and I only ever got Sparrows on my feeders which wasn't overly exciting. Now 8 weeks on I see Green Finches, Gold Finches, Tauhou and Tui almost daily which I think is pretty cool!
Below are my favourite products from Topflite. They are sold at numerous garden centres, Mitre Ten and can be purchased online here for under $10 - It's definitely not an expensive activity and well worth the return in investment when you notice how popular your property is becoming.
With this being said, you don't have to buy specific bird food to attract wildlife to your garden, in fact most households will have items great for attracting birds. If you want to start a feeding station without spending money this is definitely an option but do your research first. Here are some common foods to avoid; bread, milk, cooked oats or porridge. Seeds and grains are great for birds but keep in mind these often attract introduced bird species and they outcompete the natives so if you are wanting to attract natives id recommend a small investment in Topflite products.
"With great power comes great responsibility"
Before you start attracting wild and native birds to your garden you need to make sure that it is a safe environment for them to chill in.
- If you have pets, particularly cats you need to keep an eye on them in your garden. Keep them inside at night if possible and make sure any feeding stations are up high and well out of reach for cats to attack. Further to this, having the feeding stations out in the open is great cause it means cats cant sneak up on them and they can keep an eye out for predators.
- Feeding stations are prone to disease so if you have any of these you need to be commited to regularly cleaning them out and disinfecting these so disease doesn't start and spread. This goes for water also, make sure they have clean and fresh water that is regularly replaced.
- If your property is rural or prone to predators like rodents you can set traps to catch these guys which will help keep the wildlife in your garden safe.
WHY FEED WILD BIRDS?
I took the above photos of this fat little Tauhou in my backyard last week and honestly, Im obsessed with the little guys! I believe the question should really be, why would you not feed the birds? I mean come on!! They're so freaking cute!
As New Zealand's population continues to climb, cities get denser and our birds' viable habitats get smaller. Birds act as 'backyard barometers' telling us about the health of the environment we live in. According to State of NZ Garden Birds, over the last decade our backyard friends have been indicating significant changes in our environment. National bird counts have shown that both native and introduced bird species in New Zealand are declining and well, thats pretty shit.
Winter can be a hard time for our backyard friends and a little help from us can go a long way. During this cold season birds need more food to maintain the energy levels required to survive and this extra food isn't always easy to come by.
While different birds have different diets all birds require a balanced, nutritious diet and this does not include bread. Unfortunately a diet of breads and grains is actually really bad for our birds and so throwing these out onto your lawn isn't the answer.
Speaking from experience, watching the birds in your backyard is great for mental health. They are actually pretty adorable to watch whether they're eating, fighting, cleaning each other or taking a bath you cant help but smile cause they're just so tiny and cute. They add life, colour and song to your garden as well as providing a sense of connection to our environment.