Put down roots to attract birds
Encourage birds to visit your garden by planting trees and flowers that will provide them with food, writes
The sun is warm. Your lawn is immaculate. The air is heavy with jasmine scent. You grab the book you’re halfway through, an oversized cushion and a glass of water, and settle down for the afternoon under the big oak tree that your kids love to climb. As the sun filters through the leaves, bouncing light off the pages of your book, you suddenly realise you’re surrounded by silence. While it’s relaxing, you’re also sad that you’ve got no one to share the beauty of your garden with.
Gardens do a great job at making humans happy. But they also keep an abundance of birdlife happy – and sustained – too. Birds add a beautiful element to any garden that pretty flowers just can’t. Their cheerful chirps, joyful tweets and almost flirty interactions create a pleasant atmosphere that perfectly accompanies the most beautiful of garden spaces.
But how do you encourage birds to visit your garden and, most importantly, to keep coming back? NZ Gardener editor Jo McCarroll says it all comes down to their appetites.
‘‘People like seeing birds in the garden so they often put bread out,’’ she says. ‘‘But if you want to have birds in the garden and support them all year round, the best thing you can do is plant for birds.’’
So what planting appeals most to a bird’s stomach?
‘‘Different birds eat different things, so plants that produce nectar, seeds, berries or insects will help bring lots of varieties into the garden,’’ says McCarroll. ‘‘You want to plant a range of vegetation that flowers and produces fruit at different times of the year, so there’s something for the birds to eat all year round. A jumble of things is better than focusing on just one plant type.’’
The po¯hutukawa is a perfect all-rounder that encourages natives like ka¯ka¯, tui, bellbirds, stitchbirds and ka¯ka¯riki to flock to your garden. Of course, they do grow quite big, so the smaller bottlebrush, although not native, is a great alternative – you might even see lots of monarch butterflies too.
Kawakawa bears fruit in January and February and is great for tui and bellbirds, while the berries of the pu¯riri are a big hit with kereru¯.
Of course, you’re not limited to native planting; apples and crab apples offer nectar, blossom and of course fruit, while the yulan magnolia flowers and therefore provides nectar and insects during winter, a time when birds need extra support.
Not sure if you’ve got enough space? Don’t let small sections put you off planting with birds in mind. If everyone on your street did something to support bird life, your neighbourhood would quickly become a bird hotspot. Encourage your community to plant bird-friendly plants in their gardens via Neighbourly.
‘‘There are no downsides to planting your garden with birds in mind,’’ says McCarroll. ‘‘You can have plants that are beautiful, colourful and fragrant, and create an absolutely beautiful garden that’s lovely for you, lovely for your neighbourhood, and lovely for the birds.’’
The po¯hutukawa is a perfect all-rounder to plant because it encourages natives like this tui to flock to your garden.