The urban sprawl that
is occurring in most New Zealand cities and towns means that we
are seeing less and less wild birds in our back yards.
Its not hard to understand the reason behind this.
If we cut down trees and bush as we develop a new suburb then we
are taking away the birds nesting site and their ability to seek
shelter from rain and wind. If we cover paddocks and scrub with
roads and building we take away the birds food supply, and if
fill in wet areas and culvert creeks and drains we deprive the
birds of drinking water.
By understanding, and
supplying, the four basic requirements of wild birds it becomes
easy to attract many different bird species to your back yard.
Popular foods to attract
A good food source
is the most important thing you need to attract birds. You can
supply natural food by planting selected shrubs and trees, but a
faster and easier method is the use of bird feeders. Offering
several different foods will attract a greater variety of birds.
Not all foods will attract
the same birds. For the best results, learn which birds are the
most common in your area and choose foods to attract them to
your yard. A good start for the beginner is a
and a platform
feeder. These can be placed in a safe location,
either hung from a tree or a post, or mounted on a
your yard becomes a popular feeding site, word will get around
the bird world and other species will start to visit, and
you can offer them treats as well. If birds see that other birds
are feeding in your back yard they too will be attracted as they
perceive that it as a safe place to come.
Water is even more
important to wild birds than food in many areas of New Zealand.
Think about your back yard and neighbouring streets. After a
period of no rain for a few days or even weeks, the
gutters and puddles dry up and there is no other places the
birds can go to find the drinking water critical to their
survival. Adding water to your backyard will quickly attract
birds. Types of water features that are attractive to birds are:
- Bird baths
- A shallow dish or
For best results
water should be kept fresh and clean. Moving or flowing water
will attract the most birds because it is more visible and they
can hear it from a great distance. So a small fountain or water
feature with a pump is the ultimate but a shallow dish will be
just as welcome to a thirsty bird.
One answer to the question how to
attract birds to our backyard is to supply a shelter. In many
suburbs today the big trees that supplied the branches, foliage,
and nesting cavities are gone, and so to are the birds that
relied on them. The easiest shelter that you can provide is a
which can supply a home for birds, a place where they can raise
their young, and a shelter in inclement weather.
You can erect winter roosting boxes that are made to serve that
specific function, they often have enough room to give shelter
to several birds at once, some are open and give shelter
primarily from rain and wind.
As well as shelter from the elements, wild birds need protection
from predators. Ensuring that your bird house and shelters are
out of the reach of cats and rats, and planting shrubs and
bushes that birds can take refuge in for a short while before
making their escape, will encourage more birds to think of your
property as a safe haven. Many plants can also serve as
food sources for birds, so choosing plantings wisely can not
only provide shelter but will also entice birds with a natural
To encourage permanent residents, it is necessary to provide
nesting sites for backyard birds. Many birds prefer to nest in
natural locations, but man made sites can also be attractive and
may be easier for you to enjoy. Nesting sites can include:
- Trees and shrubs for
natural nesting sites
- Functional or
- A brush pile for
Different birds build
different types of nests, from twig piles to dangling cups. For
the best results, learn what types of nests your regular
backyard birds prefer and offer nesting sites that are suitable
for their needs.
By providing food, water,
shelter and nesting sites, you can attract birds to your yard
and invite them to take up residence.