Birdscaping Your Garden.
This is not an original title but is the name of a book by George Adams (publisher-Weldon). This is a very useful volume covering all aspects of creating bird-friendly gardens.
Australia is home to 720 species of birds. Since European settlement the number of some bird species has decreased dramatically. Feral predators and loss of habitat are two factors that have had caused the disappearance of many of our smaller birds such as honeyeaters, finches, thornbills, and wrens. These beautiful birds have virtually vanished from many urban areas. Small native birds rely on an understorey of shrubs for food, shelter and nesting sites. This understorey is no longer present in many areas and has left small native birds susceptible to attack by feral predators and aggressive larger birds such as Currawongs and noisy miners.
Gardeners may help to redress this imbalance by creating bird-friendly gardens. In return our small native birds will fill your garden with song and movement. They will also control insect pests without the use of noxious and obnoxious chemicals.
Dense planting using a range of native plants will give these birds a sense of security. If you live in rural areas then there is scope to develop large bird-friendly areas. In urban areas it is possible to develop suitable areas either in a corner of the garden or cultivate two or three rows of suitable plants around the garden boundary. If like-minded neighbors also cultivate suitable plants then more birds will be happy to take up residence. Plants should be planted from one to one and a half metres apart. This allows the branches to grow together to create a sheltered environment.
Food Plants: Honeyeaters feed on nectar and there are many native plants that carry nectar-bearing flowers. Any Correas, Eremophilas (Emu Bushes) and Grevilleas would be suitable as their flowers are rich in nectar. Most varieties have long flowering periods. Banksias and Callistemons should also be considered. Parrots are partial to Acacia (Wattle) seeds. There are many shrubby Wattles that produce copious amounts of seed. Acacia boormanii, Acacia fimbriata, Acacia cultriformis and Acacia rubida are worth considering. Hakeas produce woody fruits that contain two seeds. Hakea eriantha seeds are relished by Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. Leptospermums (Tea trees), Baeckeas and Kunzeas produce small, attractive, nectar-filled flowers. The flowers attract a range of benign (those that cause no damage) insects that are a food source for thornbills and wrens. If you have areas of native grass allow the grass to go to seed, as this will provide food for finches.
Plants for shelter and nesting: Natives with dense and/or prickly foliage will be used by native birds for shelter and nesting sites. Grevillea Canberra Gem and Grevillea rosmarinifolia have flowers rich in nectar and prickly foliage so they are useful for food and nesting. Native Clematis are dense climbers. At Yallaroo honeyeaters and finches regularly nest in our Clematis vines. Hakea sericea, Hakea gibbosa and Acacia triptera have very prickly foliage and are useful for shelter and nesting sites. Westringia Wynyabbie Gem has dense foliage and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters nest regularly in this attractive shrub.
Birdbaths are always welcome in the bird-friendly garden. We have a number scattered throughout the garden. All the birds, that visit Yallaroo, use our water containers for bathing and drinking. Make sure that birdbaths are raised off the ground to protect the birds from feral predators.