Are you a Birdie?

Well, are you? I think you either are or you aren't?

My wife considers herself a bit of a birdie. Always filling me in on the activity of the birds in our area.

This week she asked me how we could get more varieties of birds in our garden.

So i thought I would share some tips with you all on how to attract more birds to your garden, and the advantages of doing this.

Basically if a bird knows it can be fed, be safe from predators or be able to cool down it is more likely to come for a visit.

Male Regent Bower Bird

Generally the diet of birds puts them into four broad categories - nectar feeding, insect feeding, fruit and seed feeding, and carnivorous.

The bird groups:

• Nectar feeding birds. The flower provides the food source and the birds repay them by taking pollen from one flower to the next, thus facilitating cross pollination.

• Fruit and seed eating birds. They love the berries produced by Syzygium ‘Bush Christmas’. Another plant to provide food for this group is the Grevillea.

• Insect-eating birds like similar plants to those of nectar feeders, so if you've got nectar-feeding birds, you'll have the insect-eaters too.

• The carnivores include butcher birds, kookaburras, currawongs and owls. To get them into the garden you need wildlife and the best way to do that is to stop using nasty pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. This encourages a natural biology in the garden and brings wildlife such as insects, small lizards, worms and frogs.

Superb Fairy Wren

The bird attracting plants:

Grevillea ‘Honey Gem’ is a plant the rainbow lorikeets love. They adore the nectar and seeds and they won't knock back the odd insect or two either. Grevilleas are great bird plants. The denser and pricklier the foliage, the better protection it gives birds from predators and it also provides fabulous, safe nesting sites.

Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ is another good smaller-growing variety that affords birds plenty of protection. It flowers in the cooler months, giving birds a winter feed.

Grevillea ‘Firesprite’ is a favourite of the scarlet honeyeater.

Kangaroo paws used to be hard to grow in some locations but, thanks to modern breeding, varieties will now grow just about anywhere, and they attract honeyeaters, red wattle birds and eastern spinebills.

• Banksias are a bit of an all-rounder. They're nectar-bearing, so that means they attract the nectar-feeding birds, like wattle birds, but they also carry seeds and that means they bring in the seed-eaters, such as cockatoos.

• Callistemons or bottlebrushes attract a variety of birds, including the insect eating fairy wren.

Build a bird-friendly garden

It is best to create a multi-layered habitat of ground covers with small and medium shrubs, and trees to provide food and shelter all year for a variety of bird species.

These plants should be close together to form dense, protective thickets, including climbers within medium-to-tall shrubs and trees. Mulch can also encourage insect life for insectivorous birds.

Plants should also be local species that grow naturally in the area and are suited to the climate. Reliable water encourages visits for a drink or a dip. But remember that birds like the water elevated so they feel safe.

Seeing birds playing their role in pollination, dispersing seed and keeping pests, like snails and insect larvae, under control is part of the joy of seeing birds in your yard. Follow these tips to be on the way to helping the environment and enjoying the sights and sounds of some wonderful winged visitors to the garden.

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