Backyard Birds Newsletter
Attracting and Feeding Birds in Your New Zealand Backyard

 

        Spring 2014

"Hello Keith and Backyard Birds - We installed our Tui bottle feeder about 27 December with some orange slices on a tree trunk just off the upstairs deck. At first we saw several daily visits from waxeyes pecking at the fruit. This past week, however, we have been noticing a steady traffic from the tui population. They seem to come all day long and we have some beautiful pictures (enclosed for your enjoyment and use). Thanks for your suggestions about attracting birds. We now have the pleasure of visiting avian life nearly all day long. Wish we had done this earlier. "
Thanks, Carolyn and Ernest

Spring is nearly here
 We have passed the first official day of Spring so better weather must be just around the corner.

 Early spring is a good time to prepare your feeders and backyard for the yearly bird feeding busy time when your local birds are hard at work preparing their nests, finding a mate, and finding enough food to help them recover from the hard winter they have just come through.

We tend to think of spring as being the season of abundance when natural food is plentiful, and this is certainly true later in the season but in these early days natural food is still very scarce. You just have to look at your own garden to see that your plants are still basically in winter mode and have yet to produce the food that the birds are looking for. In many suburbs in the North Island, where the planting theme is mainly palms etc this is especially true.
The ground temperature is still low so the worms and bugs that many of your ground feeding birds rely on are still very scarce as well.

If the birds are relying solely on natural feed they will have to spend most of their day, and use a lot of energy flying around searching for enough to survive. The same is true for their nesting materials, a quick search of your backyard will show how little dry grass, leaves, twigs etc are to be found

At this time of year you can really help your local bird population by providing the food, nesting sites and material early in the season and giving them a good head start. 


 
 


New Zealanders are being asked to report any sightings of the Kereru or wood pigeon, as part of the Great Kereru Count.
Kiwi Conservative Club manager Tiff Stewart says the native pigeon plays a crucial role in spreading plant seeds and regenerating forests.
Any sightings can be logged at www.kererucount.org.nz
This is the third year the event has been run, with more than 2000 spotted last year.


 

New Products

Fruit and Seed Bird Feeders
These attractive Fruit Seed Feeders are ideal for feeding the smaller birds in your garden.
The feeders feature an apple shaped window with a metal skewer, where you can place a variety of fruits. The fruit helps to attract native bird species to your garden, most commonly the small Silvereye or Waxeye. The feed trays on each side can be filled with seed, bread, suet or kitchen scraps to feed the non-fruit eating birds
Using one of these hanging fruit feeders helps ensure that the birds aren't in danger from cats and other predators while feeding.

 

 

"Fruit and Seed Bird Feeder - $27.00
NZ Wide Freight = $8.50
 

Backyard Birds Finch Seed

 

Finches are small birds, with short, conical beaks designed for eating seeds. They are quite shy but are welcome visitors to most gardens because of their tuneful songs, and graceful flying.
We have had so many requests from our customers who want advice on how to attract Finches to their backyards. The secret to attracting these birds is to offer them the seed they love.
Finches feed mainly from the grass seeds and small seed heads of plants such as thistles and toetoe so they need smaller seeds than most of the common birds found in New Zealand backyards.
Our Wild Bird Seed mix is a great general purpose seed for all your bird feeder visitors but the finches can only eat a certain amount of this mix

Our Finch seed is a mix of New Zealand grown small seeds that finches find hard to resist.
It includes canary seed which is high in carbohydrate and protein and white French millet which contains a variety of essential minerals to keep the birds healthy.
It is ideal to put out in your feeders on its own or add some into your wild bird seed to create a more finch friendly mix. more information >>>

Ingredients: Canary Seed, Panicum, White French Millet, Red Panicum, Japanese Millet, Oilseed Rape, Linseed.

 

 


 

 




Positioning Nest Boxes for Best Results

Like most people you have probably spent a lot of time and effort to attract a resident population of birds to your feeders but if you don't provide nesting boxes this effort could all be in vain come spring.
 At this time of year it is the most natural of instincts for birds to explore other territories to find a suitable nest site. Your birds will want to pair up and find a place to share a nest.
If you can provide them with all of their requirements, they are very likely to stay in the territory they know.
Most common New Zealand  birds will use man made boxes to nest in, and the more boxes you provide, the higher the chances of you having birds to occupy them.

The Positioning of nest-boxes is as important as selecting the correct type of box. If you can get this right you will greatly increase the chances of the birds moving in and hopefully raising a family. There are no certain methods, but a few tips can help you improve chances of success.
  •  Ideally nest boxes should be put up in early autumn. Birds will often chose a ‘well worn’ box, and so it is best to put them up and leave them in position for the following year.
     
  • If a box is not used after two years, try moving it to a different location.
     
  • Find a spot, away from the day to day traffic of your home, not next to a path, or the washing line.
     
  • Select a quiet part of the garden, think about the activity of neighbours, if they are close.
     
  • The entrance should face away from the prevailing winds and be as sheltered as possible while still allowing the birds to have a clear flight path.
     
  • Consider potential threats to the nestlings, avoid locating the box where cats and other predators can lay in wait.
     
  • Use more than one nest box for each species of bird, you will increase you chances of attracting your favoured bird, and chances are you will find them used by other birds as well.
     
  • Position the nest boxes as far apart as possible. Most birds are territorial and may fight if the boxes are too close. Sparrows prefer community living so you can position their boxes close together.
     
  •  Position the box away from the feeding station. The feeding station attracts other birds in to your garden and so, requires defending by the resident birds if they are close by.
     
  • Do not put nesting material into the box. It will more than likely put off potential occupants. The best way to help the birds is to provide material such as hair from dog grooming, cotton, wool, feathers. (See our article on Attracting Birds With Nesting Material >>> )
     
  •  If you disturb the box once occupied, the birds may desert it. Watch from a distance, and avoid direct contact with the box.
     
  • If cats jumping up and sitting on the nesting box roof is a problem, you can easily solve this by putting a small pot plant or garden ornament on the roof.

Interesting Bird Facts

  • Birds sing more in the early morning and at dusk for a reason. That's when air is typically calmer and so sound waves will carry further and sound clearer. There are also fewer competing background noises. Even those birds that can be heard singing throughout the day will tend to sing more at dawn and dusk.
     
  • Birds can tell when a storm is coming. They have  a special receptor in their middle ear called the Vitali organ or Paratympanic organ, it helps with their hearing and balance, but it's also a built-in barometer. When air pressure starts falling, signaling a storm is coming, birds will eat as much as possible to help them survive through the next few days when they will be unable to fly in search of food.
     
  • Birds don't abandon their babies if we touch them.  Experts say no -- once eggs have hatched, the parents’ drive to nurture their offspring outweighs their fear of human scent. That is, unless the nest is repeatedly disturbed.
     
  •  A bird's heart beats 400 times per minute while resting and up to 1000 beats per minute while flying
     
  • The bones of a pigeon weigh less than its feathers
     
  • The only bird with nostrils at the end of its beak is the kiwi. The Kiwi’s nostrils are situated at the end of its beak, unlike other birds that have their nostrils near the back of their beak. Its beak is equipped with pressure and vibration detectors enabling it to detect its prey deep underground. This placement helps it sniff for food, such as worms and insects on the ground. It often snorts to clear its nostrils.
    The Kiwi also lays the biggest egg in proportion to its body-size. Even though the Kiwi is about the size of a chicken, its egg is six times the size of a chicken egg. The largest recorded Kiwi egg weighed 500 grams
     
  • The Kea is the only alpine parrot in the world. it’s also the only species of parrot known to attack and kill other animals
     
  • New Zealand has more flightless bird species than any other country on earth

 

 

 

Know Your NZ Birds

 

 The Morepork
Moreporks, also known as the Tasmanian Spotted Owl, are widespread  throughout NZ although they are scarce south of Christchurch. They can be found in native and exotic forests, farmland, and within some urban parks and gardens.
Its distinctive “more-pork” call is commonly heard at night in many urban parks and well-vegetated suburbs.
 
Their diet consists of a wide variety of small animals, including large insects, small birds, (especially waxeyes), and small mammals. The insects include huhu beetles, weta, cicadas and large moths.
 
If you have Moreporks in your area they are relatively easy to attract to your backyard. By leaving outside lights on you can attract moreporks that come to feed on the moths and other insects that come around the light.
Some people have had good results using several solar-lights positioned in a quite corner of their garden 
Read Article >>>
 



Question and Answer Section

Q. Hi. Success with a range of feeds - bread, nectar, bird cakes, suet etc, seed, for sparrows, wax eyes, tuis, bellbirds, but are stuck on this one. Wood Pigeons [Kereru] come and sit on the fence but nothing seems to appeal to them. Got any ideas?
Brian Strong, Riverton, Southland
 

A.  Hi Brian
Its good to hear you are having luck attracting the birds. Kereru are the hardest birds to attract and I would suggest that if they are already sitting on your fence that you start trying to feed them there and if you are successful then you can move your feeding platform to another part of your garden.
Below is an extract from an article I wrote awhile ago on attracting Kereru, I hope it helps.
 Using a shallow glass plate is the most important hint. A source of water is the initial reason many Kereru are attracted to a backyard. In the long, dry months of last summer, many people reported Kereru arriving from local parks and reserves to use their bird baths. While any bird bath will attract Kereru they, like most birds, are more likely to be attracted to the sound of running water, so a water feature with a pump is the best when trying to entice Kereru to your backyard. The bath you provide for these large birds will need to be bigger and deeper than for most of your other visitors. Tempting these birds to your feeder can be a long, slow process. These birds are naturally shy so you will need to set up a garden feeding platform in a quiet area of the garden, a couple of metres off the ground, with a metre long branch attached to it so the birds can easily land. The simplest food to offer them is thawed frozen peas and corn, although many people have good results with plums and red grapes. Once you have started feeding Kereru they also like pieces of cut up bananas but you cant use these to attract them initially because they don't recognize these as a food source. Put the food in a shallow glass or clear plate. Being so shy, the Kereru wont feed from any container where the sides block their view.

Read The entire article >>>

Q. Hi I bought a Pole Mounted Roofed Bird Feeder recently.  What is the best way to attract the birds to it?  I’ve put it up near the flaxes and trees where they sit and where I’ve always thrown bread out to.  It’s been a week and they still haven’t found it!!  I’ve tried putting bread up to it and on the post next to it, around the outside of the feeder but no luck.
Any ideas would be great.
Thanks Natasha

A . Hi Natasha This is actually a common problem when you put up a new feeder and the ungrateful birds don't want to use it. If you have already been scattering bread in this area then continue to do so but put out less and then put some on the roof of the feeder. Once they start eating that then reduce the amount you are scattering and put more on the roof and some in the feeder. It may take a little while but the birds will learn to associate the feeder with their food and start using it. Once you have birds using the feeder you could try adding a bowl with seed in it as well. This will attract different birds, ones like finches that aren't that keen on bread but will love the seed.  

Hi Keith
They’ve found it!  It certainly is a busy place now and it’s lovely to watch.

Thanks Natasha

 


Photos of the Month

These photos were sent to us by Bernie from Wellington who took them when he was visiting a friend in Onerahi, Whangarei
 


We have one of your tui feeders which gives the birds - and us - lots of enjoyment.  We also get kaka trying to take the tuis' drink, much to the annoyance of the tui who gang up and try to chase the kaka away.
Cheers Alan

 


 

I have been using your feeders to feed Tuis, waxeyes and sparrows for several years with great success but this year decided to follow your advice and leave a back corner of my garden "wild". I cant believe how many birds come to this area. There are often more birds there than I see at my feeders. I am going to expand this area this year, its a win-win because I spend less time gardening and more time watching the birds.
Thanks for all your advice.
Catherine - Hastings


 

We love receiving photos from our customers and have decided to include the best ones in each newsletter, so please send us your photos.
 
 

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