Birds in the Garden
Native birds add colour and excitement to a suburban garden, as well as supporting a healthy eco-system.
To attract birds, you must provide these basic essentials:
- shelter and roosting
- nesting sites
- food and water
This page is a guide as to the types of plants that are ‘bird-friendly’. With the varied climate and soil conditions in different regions however, you will need to choose plants that are suitable for your area.
Shelter and Roosting
Birds need shelter from birds of prey such as hawks, kites as well as from introduced threats like cats and dogs. Low spiky shrubs like Hakeas and Grevilleas provide good shelter for wrens and finches while also producing attractive flowers.
As well as shelter, birds need safe perches from which to catch insects in daytime and to roost during the night.
Angophora costata, smooth-barked apple gum, has a spreading crown, growing to 20m, with white flowers in summer.
Syncarpia glomulifera, turpentine, grows to 20m in gullies and side slopes. It is a good shade tree and produces masses of white flowers about September. Birds such as owls often use this tree as a daytime roost.
If your garden is quiet and relatively free from intrusion by domestic pets, then birds may be attracted to nest there.
It is important to have food plants and those which attract insects near the site as small birds must conserve energy while nesting.
Finches may nest in Hakea bushes Buff rumped thornbills may nest close to the ground amongst clumps of grass Grey shrike-thrush prefer nesting on lower trunks of trees or on a stump. Red wattlebirds choose Callitiris Honeyeaters prefer to nest in the pendulous foliage of eucalypts Wrens, robins and brown thornbills may nest in low shrubs Magpies build their nests in the forks of tall trees. Parrots, lorikeets and kookaburras nest in hollows, which you can provide in your garden with a hollow log or nest-box. These can be quite decorative features.
Native climbers such as Kennedya, Clematis and Sollya are also valuable nesting sites for small birds while providing contrasting shapes.
Food and Water
A bird-bath is an attractive addition to the garden; however; it must be protected from cats and dogs.
Trees and shrubs provide food for birds in several ways. Birds may feed on nectar in flowers, or eat seeds and soft fruits. Many birds eat insects from flowers, branches and leaves, or catch them in the airspace between plants.
Some examples of feed plants:
- Melaleuca hypericifolia—light red brushes, weeping foliage.
- Eucalyptus eximia, yellow bloodwood, grows to 20m with grey-green foliage and masses of white flowers, usually in October.
- Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ or any suitable hybrid growing to a few meters with red flowers.
- Banksia ericifolia with dark green foliage to 5m with orange flowers.
- Anigozanthus species, kangaroo paws, are excellent.
- Acacia elata, cedar wattle, taller and longer living than many wattles has attractive foliage and cream summer flowers.
- Acacia suaveolens, sweet-scented wattle, only 1 – 2m, with grey-green foliage.
- Callitris rhomboidea—native cypress conifer.
- Allocasuarina torulosa, forest she-oak, may grow 15 – 20 metres, has attractive needle-like foliage, furrowed bark and hard fruits suitable for Glossy Black Cockatoos.
- Pultenea and other pea flowers produce edible seeds which attract rosellas.
- Soft Fruit
- Austromyrtus tenuifolia and Austromyrtus dulcis are ideal small shrubs with fleshy berries.
- Acmena smithii, lilli pilli, adaptable rainforest plant with glossy green foliage, pink new foliage white flowers in summer, fruit during winter.
As well as most Acacia species, try the many Baeckeas, the Pimeleas, the Pulteneas and the Kunzeas. If you want to attract night birds such as owls and frogmouths, plant white or lemon-flowered shrubs to attract night-flying insects such as moths. Callistemon pallidus is good for this.
For more information on how to attract native birds to your garden contact your nearest IGC Garden Centre via our store Locator page.