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1 Jun 2020

Encouraging small feathered friends to your garden

Birds are often considered to be a good gauge of environmental health as they are affected by natural or man-made influences. Over the years sightings of small birds have become rare in Sydney’s inner city. It is easy to create a welcoming garden for stunning small birds such as the Superb Fairy wren, Red-browed Finch or Silvereyes to enjoy. 

Young Wren

With the popularity of garden makeover programs, those rambling and often a bit weedy “unloved garden” areas have increasingly been turned into paved outdoor areas or manicured lawns. This means the loss of important plants that are an ideal habitat for small birds which love a dense and diverse understory. 

A rise in popularity of plants that attract large birds, who prey on the nestlings of small birds and bird eggs, is the cause of less sightings of smaller birds. Many grevillea hybrids with large flowers encourage aggressive birds such as the Noisy Miner and Red Wattlebird. Plants with berries such as lilly pillys attract larger birds such as the Pied Currawong. So, what can you do to encourage small birds into your garden?  

Young male, blue Wren

Ways to attract small birds to your garden 

To help bring back these beautiful small birds to your garden, some suggestions include:

Spikey & diverse plant layers  

Include a variety of plants in layers, such as grasses in which small birds forage for food, and climbers, shrubs and small trees to protect them from the weather and predators. The diverse, dense and spikey vegetation also make your garden a safe haven for the roosting and nesting of small birds. Fallen branches, hollow logs, and rocks can also be beneficial. 

Shrubs image by Edmund Tse via Flickr

Go local  

Grow local native plants which are more suitable for your area and familiar to small birds. Check out the following council-run nurseries in the Sydney area which grow high quality and a diverse range of local native plants: Sutherland Shire, Randwick, Rozelle Bay, Marrickville, Hornsby, Kur-ring-gai and Hawkesbury nurseries. 

Go natural  

Reduce or eliminate the use pesticides and snail baits in the garden. 

H2o is the go 

Add an elevated bird bath close to a spiky, dense shrub to help protect birds from predators such as cats and larger birds. 

Avoid  

• Glam plants: Plants which have large flowers, such as many hybrid grevilleas, and also plants with large fruits such as lilly pillys.  

• Tidying up: Clearing bushy or “messy” areas of your garden, as small birds love this! 

• Feeding: Don’t feed birds with bread or seed to ensure they don’t become reliant on humans.  

Hybrid grevilleas, image by Tatters via Flickr

No garden, no problem 

There are several ways to help create habitats for small birds including volunteering at a local bush regeneration program. The Centennial Parklands Volunteer group is expanding and strengthening the available environment for small birds by rehabilitating one of inner Sydney’s most important habitats – the Bird Habitat revegetation project which works in conjunction with Guriwal Trail project under the title of Habitat Restoration program. Find out more about this program here.

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