Watching birds in your garden can bring a lot of joy. Our beautiful feathered friends make any yard come alive with their colour and song!
Attracting birds to your garden by feeding them not only allows you to enjoy their company, but it can help provide valuable sustenance for them over the winter months in particular - this is when their normal sources of food become scarce. If you are wanting to attract more birds, read on for a few handy tips on turning your garden into a bird haven.
The first thing to do is establish regular food and water sources in your garden. If you want to go the extra step, you could create nesting sites too! It is important to keep these areas higher up off the ground so visiting birds are less exposed to predators (and on that note, if you have a cat it’s a good idea to keep them inside when birds usually feed, particularly at night and during early morning hours).
Take note of which birds are around in your area, or identify which birds you would like to attract, and put out food accordingly. Keep the feeder or feeding station topped up regularly, as your local birds will come to remember it as a reliable food source.
Natives like Silvereye (Tauhou), Bellbird (Korimako), and Tui feed on nectar, fruit and insects. Using a nectar feeder and cut-open fruit, such as an orange, can help to attract these birds. You can fill nectar feeders with homemade sugar water (dissolve 100-200g of white sugar with 1L of lukewarm water), or you can go the extra step and purchase a wild bird nectar mix. These mixes are specially formulated to provide nutritious and balanced meals for nectar feeders, and are great for keeping them healthy during winter.
A great tip is to place the feeder somewhere the birds feed naturally so they can find it (e.g. for Tui, a Kowhai tree would be a good choice). For nectar feeders in particular, it can also be helpful to use a feeder with a bright red or orange colour - this mimics the colour of their favourite flowers! If you have a clear nectar feeder, try adding a drop or two of red food colouring to the nectar mix.
Providing wild bird seed is good for attracting goldfinch, greenfinch, yellowhammer, sparrow and chaffinch. Don't use bread, as although many birds will devour it (it's like junk food for them!) it can cause malnutrition and a variety of other issues, as it is high in calories but not nutrients.
It is essential to clean bird feeders regularly - food that has started to rot or has been sitting for too long can be harmful for birds. Apart from that, our biggest tip is to give them time! Be regular, and be patient while birds find your garden.
If you’d like to go the extra mile, there are a variety of native trees and shrubs that birds love. Planting some in your garden is one of the best ways to attract native birds; Flax and Kowhai are two plants that are often frequented by Bellbirds and Tui. Choosing plants that produce berries and seeds throughout all seasons is ideal.
Something else you can do is make your garden pollinator-friendly! Encouraging pollinators and beneficial insects is great for your garden, and for the environment as a whole. Providing safe spots for your local bugs to hang out, planting wildflowers, and leaving your lawn slightly longer for pollinators to burrow down in, all helps to keep your garden in natural balance.
Letting a few piles of leaf litter pile up (you can rake them out of the way under bushes etc.) can be very helpful for insects. Not only that, but more insects means more birds! You’ll be more likely to attract insect eating birds such as Fantail (Pīwakawaka) and Kingfisher (Kōtare).
If you would like to enjoy more of our beautiful feathered friends, our Birdcare & Wildlife section has a wide range of products that will help transform your garden into a bird and insect sanctuary. From nectar feeders to nectar, bird seed to bug huts, check out the range and treat your local birds.