Bring native birds back to your garden
The battle for our birds is underway. While ambitious projects like Predator Free 2050 are gathering steam on a large national scale, there are also small measures on the home front that can help protect our taonga. And you don’t have to be out trapping possums every weekend to do your bit.
Make your home or workplace garden an inviting sanctuary for native birds with these small acts of hospitality:
Bin the bread
Putting out grain-based food like bread encourages introduced species like sparrows and mynas to dominate the garden. These birds can crowd out smaller natives like the grey warbler and waxeye. In reality most New Zealand birds don’t fare well on bread but prefer to eat nectar, insects, leaves and berries.
Leave a little litter
Leaf litter, that is. Little piles of twigs, fallen leaves and other garden matter create the perfect environment for insects. And you know what loves foraging for insects? Yes, our native birds — particularly tūi, bellbirds and fantails.
They’ll neck nectar
Put out a nectar feeder and, once the tūi and bellbird find it, you’ll have regular visitors crowding for a spot. A red feeder will attract nectar-feeding natives best as they’re used to looking out for the red flowers of the rata and pohutukawa. One of our customers wrote to describe her delight at seeing numerous bellbirds and up to seven tūi at her new feeder, “I have lived in Hanmer Springs for two years and have never seen or heard a tūi. Seeing them up close is a joy.”
Plant to please
Plant flowering plants like puriri, nikau and kōwhai to provide a natural food source. If space is limited try small bushes like native jasmine, koromiko or other hebe species. They’ll bring insects which in turn attract small birds like the fantail or grey warbler.
Feed to fortify
Winter is tough on birds as they need extra energy to stay warm. They also clock up lots of air miles searching for food sources, which are scarce in winter. Putting out nutritious seed or food rich in essential fats can make all the difference to a tired, hungry bird. And, just like us, they need a good balance of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy – so only feed them the good stuff.
It’s the little things that make big things happen. So get behind your locals, ‘birdscape’ your garden and really make a difference to the native bird numbers in your area.