Start a bird cafe
In winter birds find it hard to find enough food and use a lot of energy trying to stay warm. You can help them out by setting up a bird cafe in your garden over winter.
Our native birds like to eat different things – some prefer fruit, others prefer insects.
Make a menu to please all the feathered visitors in your garden using some of the suggestions below…
This is really easy! Just cut an apple or orange in half and spike it through a tree twig. Birds love the sugar in the fruit.
Make sure you change the fruit regularly (if it doesn’t all get eaten first) because mould isn’t good for birds to eat.
Almost every bird that visits the garden, from sparrows to wax-eyes and other nimble birds, will find something tasty and nutritious for them on the end of popcorn strings.
You will need:
1 packet uncooked popcorn
1 jar malt (sunflower or olive oil
will do as an alternative)
1 cup wild bird seed
What to do:
Cook your popcorn as per the instructions on the packet. Once the popcorn is ready, head towards the sewing box!
Take a needle and some strong thread.
Thread the needle, and begin to pass the thread through the freshly cooked popcorn. Make the popcorn strings as long as you fancy and, if you wish, simply hang them up around the garden.
As an alternative, add a little more colour and flavour to them first: brush on some warmed malt or some oil, then roll the strings of popcorn in wild bird seed.
You may want to chill the strings after that or hang them straight out in the garden.
One final, colourful addition to the strings would be some soft fruit.
Extracted with permission from Tea for the Tui: Fun recipes to entice birds to your garden by Rosemary Tully, published by New Holland, $19.99.
Bottle bird feeders
Recycle your old bottles into bird feeders.
You will need:
Empty, clean milk or other bottle with a lid
String or wire
Hammer and nail
What to do:
Cut a hole in the side of your bottle about 5cm above the bottom. The hole should be about 5 cm high and not too big, or the seed will fall out.
Make a few small holes in the bottom the bottle using your nail. This will let any water drain out.
Make a hole in the middle of the lid using your nail (or a drill if you have one). The string needs to go through the hole to make a loop to hang your feeder.
Fill the feeder with birdseed and screw the lid on. Hang it in a tree or somewhere high for the birds out of the reach of cats.
Make sure you empty and clean your feeder often. If it begins to wear out, recycle it and make another one.
Feeding New Zealand’s birds!
This video by research student Josie Galbraith at the University of Auckland tells you a little more about what food is best for our native birds.
What else can you do?
Plant a bird friendly tree in your garden. This website has lots of ideas of what you can plant and which birds will thank you for it.
DOC also has some great information here about what to plant and which time of year it provides food for the birds.