Using the power of birdsong to encourage native plantings in Auckland’s backyards

Last Updated : 11 Jun 2024
Korimako Bellbird (1)

Think kōwhai and tūī.

They go together like gin and tonic or Barbie and Ken.

Native plants and birds are made for each other, which is why Auckland Council is using the power of native birdsong in a radio campaign that launched this week to urge urban homeowners to plant natives in their gardens.

The goal of the campaign is to enlist Aucklanders’ help to increase the region’s canopy cover to 30 per cent - currently, the city only has 18 per cent urban canopy cover. Increasing canopy cover across the city brings with it cultural, social, economic, and environmental benefits, like improved water and air quality, greater biodiversity, shade and a reduction of carbon dioxide through carbon sequestration.

When it comes to attracting birds into backyards, Auckland Council’s Head of Natural Environment Specialist Services Sam Hill says communities around the region are working hard to bring back birdsong and the melody of the dawn chorus in their local area.

"As households, planting native plants in our gardens and creating safe habitat helps support this. When birds reveal their song, it’s a way for us to connect with nature, which benefits our mental health.

“Any garden can be made more attractive to the human eye and a bird’s eye, even if it is only small.

Invite birds into your backyard by selecting a range of native plants that provide food all-year-round, and that native backyard birds depend on. Many of our native birds eat nectar, fruit, insects and foliage.

“Some birds will use your backyard as a convenient stopover place, having a quick drink and bite to eat before moving onto another backyard or larger natural area. For visiting birds who want to stay awhile longer, consider creating safe nesting places. 

You can make sure your backyard is a safe place for native birds to visit by controlling predators,” adds Sam.

Auckland Council can help recommend natives that thrive in specific areas of the region. To find out more visit OurAuckland

To help reach its urban canopy target, Auckland Council is implementing a winter planting programme, the Ngāhere Street Tree Project, which will see the council plant 11,000 trees on street verges in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland over the next ten years.

The 2024 planting season starts soon with the planting of 2,002 new trees on road corridors across 15 areas of the region.

The 2024 planting schedule is:

  • May – July: Papakura (141 trees); Manurewa (271 trees)

  • June – July: Ōtara-Papatoetoe (294 trees); Whau (72 trees); Henderson-Massey (100 trees); Rodney (19 trees); Kaipātiki (33 trees); Ōrākei (26 trees); Waitematā (42 trees); Albert-Eden (6 trees); Puketāpapa (30 trees); Howick (123 trees)

  • July – September: Franklin (55 trees); Māngere-Ōtāhuhu (554 trees); Maungakiekie-Tāmaki (236 trees).

Aucklanders can play their part in increasing the forest canopy by planting natives as they potter in the garden this autumn, and when listening to their favourite radio station throughout the day over the next month, they’ll hear sounds of common native birds found in Auckland, and hopefully see them in backyards soon.

Read more about Auckland’s Urban Ngāhere (Forest) Strategy here.

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