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


        Summer - 2013

Happy New Year
Welcome to the summer edition of the New Zealand Backyard Birds newsletter. We had planned to have this edition out before Christmas but it seems like everyone decided to give bird feeders for presents this year and we were rushed of our feet. Thank you to all those who placed orders with us this year and helped to make it such a fantastic year for us.

Summer is a good time to be bird feeding. The long days and cool evenings, when many of us are relaxing a bit more after the Christmas rush, gives us more time to watch the feeders and the birds coming and going. If you haven't already it is a good time to mount a feeder in clear view of the deck or backyard area where you will be spending more time barbequing and relaxing.
It is a good idea to move all feeders into shaded areas over the hottest months, even if this makes them less visible from the air, the birds will soon find them and will visit them much more during the hottest weather.

A good water supply is as important as food at this time of year. In many New Zealand suburbs there is simply no water available at all after the puddles dry up. The birds need the water for drinking but also for bathing in to keep cool. A bird bath will attract more birds to your backyard, including species that are self sufficient when finding food so wont be visiting your feeders.
A good example of this is in our own yard are the Wood Pidgins or
Kererū. These feed on Totara and other berries in the area and never visit our backyard until the dry months when we frequently see them at our bird bath. To see these large, colourful birds up close is a fantastic experience.

The best water feature to attract birds is a fountain or similar that has running water. The moving water
will help keep the water cleaner and the small splashes will announce the water to birds' keen hearing. But the birds will be grateful for any water supply, so a shallow plastic dish that is kept clean and topped up is more than sufficient. If cats are a problem, it is a good idea to hang the dish off the ground.

Many nesting birds are raising their young at this time and you will have the added enjoyment of watching the  nestlings mature as they learn to visit your bird feeders.
If you have birds nesting in you yard it is likely that you will get a few "nest hoppers", these are the young birds that end up on the ground while trying to leave the nest for the first time. These birds are true teenagers that wont listen to their parents advice and keep leaping out of the nests before they get their flying instructions. If you look around you will nearly always spot the mum or dad keeping guard and coming down with feed for them from time to time. So unless there is a danger from cats just leave them and nature will take care of the problem. Most young birds spend some time on the ground before they master the art of flying.




For those of you with young children or grandchildren this New Zealand bird site is worth a visit.
On the site children can learn about NZ birds, read bird stories, and print out pictures to colour in. There is also pages that display art and stories sent in by children. This is defiantly a site to keep in mind for those wet days when the children are trapped inside these holidays.



Special Offer

To help you look after your wild birds this summer our Special allows you to buy a Large Seed Feeder PLUS a Fruit Feeder for only $62.00 (including freight).
This special is only available until 31 February 2013

The special offer above is available to all our customers, so for our loyal newsletter customers we are also offering a 30% discount on any products purchased before 31 February 2013. To be eligible for this offer you must have been on our newsletter list before 30 December 2012 when this newsletter came out. Please email us to place your order.

Special Offer is available at




Summer Feeding.
Summer bird feeding is relatively easy, you just feed out what the birds would be eating in a more rural setting.
In the summer all the grasses and plants turn to seed and the trees are laden with fruit and berries, so this is what the birds are seeking at this time of year
What you should NOT be feeding during this time is kitchen scraps.  While small quantities of bread, cooked rice and other scraps won't harm adult birds, these foods do not have the nutrition for nestlings and other young birds need. Avoid offering this "bird junk food" during the months when young birds need a healthy diet to grow into strong, mature adults.
  • Seed - A good mix of wild bird seed is ideal. Make sure it has Nyjer included in the mix to feed the different species of  finches.
    If there is high humidity only partially fill the feeders during the day to avoid the seed spoiling. If possible fill the feeders in the late afternoon when it is cooler because you will find most birds will be feeding then or in the early morning.
  • Fruit - Slices of Apple, Bananas, and Oranges are ideal for many birds. The fruit has the added advantage of attracting small fruit flies and other insects that fantails and other native birds feed on.
  • Nectar - Although, in many areas, Tuis and Bellbirds will be able to find an abundance of nectar in the native trees it is a good idea to keep the syrup feeders topped up. This will ensure that the birds stay "trained" to come to your feeders. It also makes life easier for them because they don't have to spend all day out in the sun searching for food.
    It is also a good idea to cut back on the amount of sugar you use in the syrup. Many birds will be drinking for thirst, as opposed to hunger, so they don't need to be receiving the same amount of energy from the syrup.

The ground is getting harder as the summer progresses and this makes the birds task of finding worms more difficult. This is at a time when the parents are needing to find more protein for their growing families. If you have a sprinkler system this is ideal, otherwise you can use the hose to wet down an area of mulch or leaves in the garden to soften the surface and also encourage the worms and insects to leave the cool of below ground and move into this habitat.



Swallows are nice birds to have around. Their  intricate flight patterns while courting or feeding their young can be watched for hours. They feed on flies, including midges and blowflies, small beetles and moths, so are a definite aid to gardeners.
We have had several enquiries from people saying that they have Swallows in their yard but they are not building nests this year. The reason for this is that the ground is too hard for them to gather the mud needed to build their distinctive nests. If you do want these birds to build a nest then simply start wetting an area of grass or garden with the hose each day. You don't have to turn the area into a swamp just make it wet enough so the ground becomes soft.
Swallows will return to the same spot every year to build a nest, after they have been successful the first time. They nest between August and early March and raise up to three broods in this time. Many people don't like the "mess" their nests make and destroy them so even this late in the season there are always Swallows looking for new nest building sites




Know Your NZ Birds
In this issue we have concentrated on the larger common birds found in most New Zealand backyards. Most people will know these birds by sight but many will not know their names or the differences between them.

Read Article >>>



Photo of the Month

We love receiving photos from our customers and have decided to include the best ones in each newsletter, so please send us your photos.
This photo of a Bellbird feeding on honeydew on the trunk of a mountain beech tree was taken by Alan Liefing, in the Craigeburn Forest, North Canterbury.




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