Increasing urbanisation is resulting in the loss of habitat for many of our familiar and favourite native birds. Every garden owner can do their bit to encourage wildlife, especially birds. What's more, your garden need be no less beautiful and you have the added joy of watching birds as they live out their lives in your garden.
Birds may pass through your garden as they seek out food on their travels. They may even raise their family in your garden. You will find many birds sourcing food in introduced species, especially those that offer ample supplies of pollen. However, native plants are preferable. Start by planting some native trees: eucalypts and angophoras for flower, bottlebrushes, teatrees, eriostemon and melaleucas for denser cover.
Combine a quality fertiliser with good mulch such as Debco’s Potmate Mulch or Green Wizard Mulch, irrigation and the selection of tree species suited to your soil conditions and environment, and you will get remarkable growth from tube stock plants - so it need not be expensive. Birds really appreciate having some areas of dense cover and some more open areas. By clipping some plants you can increase the density of foliage and branching to form really good cover. Prickly plants especially help give cover from cats and by tip-pruning these plants, growth becomes denser and cover is more effective.
Try to establish a range of habitats, not only by having different food plants and dense and open cover, but also by using grasses and reeds, the latter combined with water.
Native grasses are particularly beautiful and can be combined with native ferns for superb displays. Generally they need little water and maintenance, providing you control weed growth.
Birdbaths or other shallow vessels of clean, cool water allow birds to drink and bathe. Beware that cats may be attracted too, so place them in a protected area.
The Bird Observers Club of Australia has suggested that as many as 7.5 million birds die each year due to violation of habitat. Even if this figure is overestimated by 100%, it remains a remarkable statistic. Many birds once common in our gardens have become scarce. Every garden that becomes bird-friendly helps to combat this trend.
If you have birdscaped your garden you may be interested in joining the Bird Observers Club of Australia. They can be contacted at www.birdobservers.org.au or by telephone on 03 9877 5342.