A garden for the birds


Do you want to see more birds in your garden during winter? Perhaps you participated in the recent Landcare Research Garden Bird Survey and were either surprised or disappointed by the number of birds you counted.
The trick to attracting birds to your garden is to have a varied garden that provides food and shelter for birds year round.
Whether you have a big or small garden you can still attract birds, especially over winter and spring, when many birds including tui, bellbird and kereru will travel long distances in search of flowers and fruit to feed on. Most of our native birds eat insects as well as fruit or nectar from flowers, having leaf litter covering the ground of your garden with places for insects to live can therefore also be helpful in attracting birds.
There are many native trees, shrubs and climbers that look attractive in gardens and provide shelter and food for birds. Kowhai cultivars can be seen flowering around Dunedin in winter much to the delight of nectar feeding birds. A number of native fruiting plants such as astelia are great winter fruiters enjoyed by fruit-eating birds.
Exotic species are not to be underestimated for their birdattracting properties particularly during the winter months. The main reason birds move into private gardens during the winter is because the native bush they usually call home does not have the quantity of food provided by the mixed native-exotic gardens in urban environments.
Winter flowering eucalyptus species are noted as a source of food for nectar-feeding birds around Dunedin in winter.
If you want your garden to be a bird haven you need to see it with a ‘‘bird’s eye view’’. Specialist native plant nurseries and online resources can help you do this.