Attracting wild birds to your garden


Do you love birds and bird watching? Wild bird feeding is a great way to attract birds to your garden daily and provides regular food during the cold winter months when insects, berries, nuts and seeds can be scarce. In addition to the enjoyment of having birds in your garden, many of them will help with pollination of plants in your garden and search for common garden pests such as caterpillars and snails all year round. Here is a guide to attracting birds to your backyard.

Step one: Provide quality food

Wild birds eat a variety of foods. Some are mainly nectar feeders such as Tui and Bellbirds whereas others like Fantails prefer insects and bugs. Other species like Finches and Sparrows are mainly seed eaters. However, in winter when natural food sources are low, most wild birds will eat seeds.

  • A quality wild bird seed blend is a great way to attract different species of birds, big and small. Look for blends such as the Topflite Wild Bird Mix that contains black-oiled sunflower seeds as this seed is a popular choice among many types of birds.
  • Sugar-water attracts the native Silvereye, Bellbird, and Tui. Sugar-water can be made using white, brown or raw sugar. Display sugar-water in an open container, on a bird table or in special bird feeders which can be hung from tree branches or other structures.
  • Energy bird cakes may attract Finches as well as Silvereyes. Bird cakes contain high-energy fat for birds. Bird cakes are low maintenance, long-lasting and can be hung or placed in wire cage feeders. Topflite Wild Bird Truffles and Logs are a great option and come in a peanut or berry flavour.
  • Foods to avoid include honey water, bread, corn, walnuts, junk food such as chips, mouldy food and too much of anything.

Step two: Selecting the correct feeder

There are several types of feeders and each has distinct advantages.

Step three: Choose a feeder location

Choose a location where you will be able to easily watch birds from inside. Birds are vulnerable on the ground so raised feeders are the safest solution. If possible, place your feeder near trees or shrubs as birds will use these to perch and seek protection. If there are no trees or shrubs nearby, you can make a brush pile of branches and twigs to provide cover for birds near the feeder.

Step four: Add water

Birds use water for drinking and bathing and prefer shallow water. A bird bath, barrel, or flower pot dish works well.

Step five: Give them Space

Avoid crowding by providing ample feeder space. If you notice aggression between birds, consider adopting a second feeder or discontinuing the feeding.

Step six: Maintain your feeder

Clean and disinfect feeders once or twice a month. Discard any food that smells musty, feels or appears wet and looks mouldy.

Common New Zealand birds:

  • Blackbird
  • Tui
  • House Sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Silvereye (or Waxeye)
  • Fantail
  • Greenfinch
  • Goldfinch
  • Starling
  • Yellowhammer
  • Song Thrush
  • Bellbird