Having birds around your home can be a lot of fun, whether you’re keeping them purely as pets, breeding them or simply enjoying whatever turns up in your garden. If you want to entice native birds into your garden, you need to provide an environment that will appeal to them.
Of course, the easiest way is to provide food but this is not always a good idea because the smart little fellows will soon come to depend on you instead of looking for their own as nature intended. We once made the mistake of offering a few little bits of meat to some Butcher Birds on our back deck. They were so cocky that they would take it out of our fingers but, before long, they’d invited all their friends and were making quite a mess, as well as terrorising our cat. Having a tray full of seed is a good way of attracting parrots and they soon become used to humans and let you get up close and personal but they and their offspring will come to depend on it.
The better way, I feel, is to grow the varieties of trees and shrubs that will attract the types of birds we want. Flowering native trees and shrubs will bring in the various types of honeyeaters and the brightly coloured lorikeets, while little birds such as wrens like a thicket that they can feel safe in.
One thing that is sure to attract a feathered following is a bird bath. When I was breeding Budgerigars, it never occurred to me that they might want to bathe until one day I put in a larger water dish and was quite surprised to see them all lining up to splash around in it. So a bird bath in your garden is a must and it can look attractive as well. Some people will buy an elaborate structure and place it strategically in the middle of the yard but I have found that it is best located under a tree or shrub with branches nearby to enable the bathers to hop in and out and have somewhere to perch while waiting their turn. Having it under a bit of cover also helps keep the water cool in summer and it is also advisable to have it at least a couple of feet off the ground to keep the bathing birds safe from cats.
Watching the different kinds of birds bathing can be fascinating as they all have their own unique way of going about it. Some of the parrots like to get in and roll around, absolutely drenching themselves, while Magpies seem to like to settle in and flap their wings and splash water everywhere. Then there are the various types of honeyeaters that like to zoom in, have a quick little splash and zoom out. That is where a branch or conveniently placed perch comes in handy. Some birds like to make a party of it, all turning up together and jumping in in twos and threes.
Locating your bird bath where you can see it from the living area of your house will provide you with some of the best free entertainment you will ever see.
Noel Williams is interested in everything to do with gardening, outdoor living and wild life and is passionate about birds.
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