Hibiscus Happiness
Thrifty Gardening

A Garden for the Birds

New Holland Honeyeatercredit_ Jinesh PS
New Holland Honeyeater credit: Jinesh PS

There are also many other benefits in encouraging native birds to your garden along with these obvious delightful additions to your plot of paradise. Birds need to eat, and many will happily devour your pests and assist in pollination and will also help distribute seeds while flitting about on their business. For happy and healthy birds, they require what we need, shelter, water, and food so to encourage them, you can try providing these elements in your garden but first, you must think of life at a bird’s level, not your own. A good example is the ever-popular birdbath. While it may look splendid high up on a pedestal in the centre of a vast lawn, many birds, (and probably the ones that need your oasis the most) won’t like being caught out in the open in clear view of predators like that. Lower and shift the birdbath so that it is close to shrubs and trees, and you give birds an escape route if needed. The key to welcoming birds it to make them feel secure and by offering water and food in a safe way that feels like home.

When providing plants, you need to think in layers as birds don’t just live within trees, they require shrubs and grasses as well as climbers and depending on the species, they need nectar producing and/or seed producing plants as well as places for insects and smaller creatures to live that may be part of their diet. Along with places to hang out, birds need nesting areas and materials and while they are not going to find everything they need at your place, no matter how big it is, they may find just enough if you grow and provide it so that they drop in regularly.

 

Plants for Native Birds

Trees will offer birds places to perch, to nest and can also provide food. Ones to consider for your garden are:

Wattles (Acacia spp.), Gums (Eucalyptus spp.) and Tea Trees (Melaleuca spp.) and (Leptospermum spp.)

Shrubs, especially thicker growth species, are safe harbour for the small birds in your backyard. These can be in the form of a hedge but also grow a few together in another part of your garden. A quiet area if possible as this could also offer just the right place for nesting. Many shrubs also blossom in nectar producing flowers. Try: Banksias (Banksia spp.) Boronias (Boronia spp.), Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.), Correa (Correa spp.), Bursaria (Bursaria spp.), Grevillea (Grevillea spp.) Waxflower (Crowea exalata), Lechenaultia (Lechenaultia formosa) and smaller species of wattles and tea trees. Grasses offer seeds, a safe hiding place and a nesting spot for many ground-living birds. Grow Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia spp.), Mat Rush (Lomandra spp.) and Tussock (Poa labillardieri). Climbers will also be vital in a bird-friendly garden as a quick get-away spot and feasting opportunity. Ones to consider are Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides), Black Coral Pea (Kennedia nigricans) and Hardenbergia (Hardenbergia spp.). While not a growing plant, organic mulches are essential as they make good homes for easily accessible insects that can become dinner for your feathered friends.

Central Coast Birds
Along with the usual suspects, rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, grass parrots and magpies, watch out for the pictured. Eastern Yellow Robin along with the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Brush Bronzewing, Dusky Wood Swallow. You might also catch a glimpse of a New Holland Honeyeater (pictured, credit: Jinesh PS) or a Red Wattlebird. To find more and to help identify birds in your backyard these two websites have easy to use and fun interfaces suitable for all ages: birdsinbackyards.net and birdlife.org.au. If you do unfortunately find a sick or injured bird, please contact either wildlife-arc.org.au ph: (02) 43250666 or wires.org.au ph: 1300094737

Should You Feed the Birds?

Attracting birds is good for you, but it is also a way of growing a garden to be part of the environment and add botanical value to the area your home is situated in. This means that you are growing plants in a way that is good for the local ecosystem. What birds don’t need however is for you to hand feed them food that is not part of their native diet. Along with inviting rodents from fallen seed and food, you are encouraging bad habits in Australian native birds. We are surrounded by National Parks and bushland so I can assure you, no native bird needs a plate of birdseed or a handful of mince. Rather than setting out food, provide a more natural environment filled with the plants and the opportunities for birds to live naturally. What they can do with is fresh clean water, especially in dry spells. As mentioned, make sure that your birdbath or container is placed in an open, high area so that the birds can see predators easily.

Central Coast Bird Watching
Birding is the art of birdwatching, not just a happy hobby but a way of playing a part in the research and conservation of our wildlife. One of our local Birding groups is Central Coast Birders who meet the fourth Tuesday of the month, 7:30pm at Progress Hall, Anzac Road, Tuggerah and they can be found online along with their informative and inspiring newsletters here:

http://www.birdingnsw.org.au/central-coast-group-newsletter/


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
Tabletop Cactus Garden Workshop.
1 – 2:30pm Sunday 18th June Burbank at Saddle, Mount White. Come join our lovely crew in creating your own tabletop cactus Garden to take home and enjoy. Bookings essential ph: 43701010
Kincumber Community Eco Garden Working Bee
. 3 – 4pm Friday 23rd June. 20 – 22 Kincumber Street, Kincumber. Work bee - weed grass from garden beds, prune bushes and trees , check and attend compost,and worm farms, water. Dig out arrowroot. Prune citrus. Tidy potting table and assemble shade house, tidy shed. Prepare for June Produce Swap and Workshop.
Build Your Own Frog Hotel. 1 – 3pm Saturday 24th June Wyee Nursery, Wyee. Learn why frogs are important, learn about different types of frogs, touch on the flora & fauna that is best suited for frogs, build your very own frog hotel and learn how to maintain it once you take it home.

This workshop is suitable for all ages and will be a fun-filled adventure for the whole family!

Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/55ayt8aw

GARDEN PLANNER
winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, bare-rooted roses, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 
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