Setting up a feeding station in your garden is one way to attract native birds, and also to ensure our precious feathered friends have enough to eat during the harsher months.
New Zealand Forest and Bird encourages residents to supplement the feed of native birds – many of which eat nectar, fruit, and insects – by giving them their own feeding tables.
Getting used to eating at the table might take some birds a while to learn, but it is important to ensure that any feeding stations are topped up regularly in winter and early spring when natural food sources are more limited.
Keep an eye out in the garden for kererū (wood pigeon), korimako (bellbird), kōtare (kingfisher), pīwakawaka (fantail), riroriro (grey warbler), tauhou (silvereye) and tūī. Growing native plants and shrubs is the best way to attract native birds to your garden.
Try growing species that provide nectar, seeds, and berries all year-round so birds always have food available to them.
FOODS TO AVOID
If you want to attract only native birds then do not use seeds and grain. They attract introduced birds that out-compete natives.
Avoid bread as well, and milk. The latter cannot be digested by birds and causes stomach upsets. Fermented dairy products such as cheese are okay.
Never put out honey or honey/water for birds. Birds love it, so do bees, so this practice can spread bee diseases.
Cooked oats or porridge are not a good idea as they can harden around a bird’s beak, says Forest and Bird. Uncooked oats are okay.
FOODS TO FEED
Native birds that you are likely to attract to your garden prefer to eat fruit, nectar, insects, and foliage. The kererū (wood pigeon) prefers to eat the fruit and foliage of native plants, while others like different food.
One way to build up a food supply for them is to leave the leaves on the ground when they fall off plants and shrubs. Over time, a thick layer of mulch will build up. This boosts insect populations, which provides a great food source for insectivorous birds.
Try hammering some nails into a board and securing pieces of fruit to the table. Half-cut oranges, apples, and pears can attract tauhou, korimako and tūī.