Backyard Habitat

MAKE YOUR BACKYARD A HAVEN FOR WILD BIRDS

Feeding native birds is an enjoyable pastime for many people. Also the simple pleasure of having birds visit our gardens can help us feel more in touch with nature. Here are some tips to help enhance your wild bird experience.

 

Bird feeders

There are many different types of bird feeders available. They can be as simple as a tray, a raised bird table or more elaborate terracotta or metal feeders on a stand. Whatever type you choose, make sure it can be easily cleaned and placed where different groups of birds frequent.

Some birds are quite shy so be patient - they will eventually come down to feed!

The more "natural" the environment feels, the more comfortable birds will be in your backyard. Leaf litter can provide a good food source and big old trees provide great natural nesting sites.

Nest boxes

You can encourage birds to raise a family in your garden by providing well-protected trees and shrubs or by adding a nest box that is designed for the type of bird you want to attract to your garden.

However, nest boxes are only suitable for birds which nest in tree hollows such as Galahs, Kookaburras, Corellas, Cockatoos, Lorikeets, Red Rumpled Parrots, Reseals and even Owls.

Natural

Most birds find it hard to resist plants that attract or provide different food sources like insects, nectar, fruit, berries, nuts and seeds. Nectar-feeding birds such as Lorikeets and Honeyeaters love the taste of Grevillea, Banksia, Bottlebrush and Eucalyptus plant varieties.

While seed-eaters such as Parrots, Rosellas, Cockatoos and Galahs feed on Eucalyptus, they also seek out Wattle and a variety of Hakea.

Native plants

With such a huge range of Australian native plants to choose from, it's hard to know exactly which ones are right for your home. The best advice is to go for a range of sizes and types to provide food and shelter for a range of birds. Birds should select their food from a variety of sources such as seeds, plants and berries. Some of the most common native plants include:

Grevillea

• Banksia

• Tea trees

• Umbrella tree

• Lilly Pilly

• Casuarinas

• Kangaroo paws

• Bottlebrush (Callistemon varieties)

• Wattles

While these natives are some of the best, exotic plants can be bird friendly too. The plants listed below produce nectar rich flowers which will attract a variety of birds including Lorikeets, Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds:

• Magnolia.

• Strelitzia (Birds of paradise) These plants product nectar and birds can help in the cross pollination of other Birds of paradise

• Proteas

• Red Hot Pokers

• Camellias

Salvis (Sage)

It is also a good idea to plant a wide range of different natives and / or exotics to have something in flower every month of the year to feed and attract wild birds. Leaving some leaf litter and dead branches in your garden is also helpful as birds use these for protection, shelter and a food source.

Your local garden nursery can advise you further on bird friendly plants, suitable in your local area.

Seed supplements

Although birds visiting your garden should get the majority of their nutrients from native trees and shrubs, you can supplement their natural diet by offering a quality alternative feed from the HARMONY™ product range.

However, birds can be sensitive to changes in their diets so if you intend using a commercially mixed feed, be sure to introduce it into their diet gradually over a period of several days. The feed should be placed in bird feeders and then hung away from fences or furniture where domestic pets may be able to reach them.

Toxic foods

While most birds enjoy a range of fresh foods, there are some that are toxic to them and should not be offered. These include: •Avocado

Rhubarb leaves

•Raw fish

•Raw meat

Creating the right environment

Tasty plants are one thing, but even the tastiest treats will fail to attract birds to your yard if they don't feel safe. The more 'natural' the environment feels, the more comfortable native birds will be in your yard. Ground cover such as leaf litter, rocks, plants and even old trees for nesting sites will help create the right atmosphere. Try surrounding your natural food sources with dense shrubs, trees and flowers that provide protection and security.

Birds need water too!

Like most living things, birds need plenty of water both to drink and bathe in. Clean, cool water, under a leafy branch, is a great encouragement to wild birds to visit because fresh clean water can sometimes be the hardest necessity for birds to come by. Try installing a birdbath, pond or drippers. Even leaving out a pan of water is an effective way to provide enough water for your feathered friends!

Dangers

When designing your bird-friendly garden, think carefully about anything that may exist in your yard that could be harmful to birds. For example, many household chemicals can be harmful to native birds so make sure they are kept sealed and in a safe storage area. Be especially careful if you own pets like cats and dogs. You might consider restricting their access to the part of your garden that you are attracting birds to, or have them an enclosure built.

Bird baths

You may not be aware just how much your feathered friend enjoys bathing. We are not talking about the shampoo and bathtub variety bath, but rather the simple opportunity to splash, roll and play in water. You only have to see wild birds playing in a puddle to realise birds love a bath! 

In fact, a birdbath is one of the easiest ways to bring birds up close where you can get a really good look at them and many people believe you can attract even more species of birds with water than with a feeder.

Your local pet store or nursery is likely to have a wide variety of bird baths that you can buy and install in your garden. However, all you really need is a suitably sized container of water.

If you do decide to set up a birdbath, make sure you keep it either on a pedestal or hung from a tree to make it easier to clean and safer from predators. Change the water every few days, or even every day in hot weather.