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How to attract birds to your garden

Published: 7 October 2019

Whether you're keen on a bit of backyard bird spotting, are taking part in a bird counting survey, or just want to support our native birds, making your garden a haven for birds doesn't have to be hard work.

Follow these tips to give a boost to birds in your garden and do your part for our native wildlife:

Get the menu right

Cake crumbs, stale bread and seeds will attract sparrows, starlings and dunnocks, but may deter insect-eaters like fantails and grey warblers.

Over winter, sugar water will pull in the silvereyes, bellbirds and tui - put out a little at a time in a pot or half coconut shell and clean often.

It's important to keep the sugar concentration low in the water you provide - no higher that 1:8 is best. Using a low ratio ensures that birds return to natural food sources like flowering native trees when they are available, which provide nectar with much higher sugar concentrations. Natural sources of food are often better for birds, and using lower concentrations of sugar prevents birds from becoming dependent on sugar water.

Feeders and water bowls should be cleaned out regularly to avoid diseases and to deter insects like mosquitos and wasps.

In the summer months, a birdbath or shallow tray of water will attract native birds and pollinators. Water dishes can be placed both on the ground and in elevated positions - many native forest birds are used to drinking from elevated sites like plant canopies, while some wary introduced birds like sparrows and blackbirds are more comfortable on the ground. Water sources away from the ground also help to protect birds from pest animals and cats.

Choose the right plants

Native jasmine, putaputaweta, koromiko, small hebes and flax attact insects and smaller forest birds such as grey warblers and fantails.

Finely branched shrubs such as matipo and kohuhu provide nesting sites for fantails and grey warblers, kanuka and manuka are favoured by tui

A variety of flowering and fruiting plants like native plants and exotic bottlebrush, flowering gum and proteas will give you year-round food.

Don't be a tidy kiwi

Leaf litter, mulch and bark provide good foraging for birds.

Leave a few of your vegetables and herbs to go to seed - the flowers will attract pollinators.

Extra pro tips

  • Avoid herbicides and pesticides, many can be harmful to pollinators
  • Control pests with poison and traps
  • Keep your cat well fed and inside at night
  • Let your lawn grow - meadow gardens are a lot better for biodiversity
  • Fill your balcony with potted plants to attract birds and insects
  • Know what you're looking for - take a look at our list of the top 10 birds to spot in your garden.

Pest Free Auckland 2050

Find out more about how you can help Auckland to protect native species and habitats and eradicate pests here on OurAuckland.

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