Next time you’re choosing plants for your garden, spare a thought for our feathered friends. The rewards are numerous. The sound and movement of birds adds as much to the enjoyment of a garden, as the plants themselves. Birds also help keep the garden free of insect pests, slugs and snails.
As well as food and water, birds need safe nesting places. Fantails and silvereyes like to build their nests on the outer branches of tall twiggy shrubs, out of reach of heavy predators. When it comes to attracting a wide range of birds with different diets, a tidy garden is not a priority. In fact informality and variety wins hands down over neat minimalist designs. Birds love a garden with layers of trees, shrubs and ground covers.
Fast growing trees provide temporary habitats until slower trees reach maturity. Among the best of these are the plain green species of coprosma, corokia and pittosporum. It’s worth planting lots of native plants if you want to entice native birds, but many exotic trees and shrubs also attract wildlife, including our native birds.
For example, the flowers of the Australian flowering gums, bottlebrush and banksias are popular with nectar feeding tui. Tui are important pollinators of many native trees and will fly large distances, especially during winter, for their favourite foods. Kowhai is a favourite spring feast and in summer pohutukawas and flax flowers. In a small garden, tall flax and kowhai trees offer the best source of food for both tuis and bell birds. Keruru (native pigeon) loves karaka berries, also poroporo, puriri, titoki, fuchsia, pigeonwood, wineberry, kowhai leaves and pate (Pseudopanax).
As winter approaches, food sources dwindle so a garden with a good supply of winter flowers and berries will attract plenty of feathered friends…
Kowhai, Puriri , Red flowering gum, Silky Oak, Aloe, Banksia, Kakabeak, Protea, Tecomanthe speciosa (climber)
Autumn/winter seeds & berries:
Fig, Guava, Holly, Melia, Karaka, Rowan tree, Strawberry tree, Coprosma, Corokia, Cotoneaster, Pittosporum, Pyracantha, Five finger (Pseudopanax), Flax, Poroporo, Viburnum, Native fuchsia
Tui in pohutukawa