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


        Autumn - 2013

Where have all the Birds gone?
I don't need to tell you how long, hot, and dry this summer has been. It really has been like the summers we all remember from our childhood.
For many birds it has been a hard time and we have had many people reporting that birds seem to have virtually disappeared from their backyards and neighbourhoods, even though they have been putting out food for them. This is because the birds greatest need this summer has been for water and in many areas they are simply not finding it so are having to move away from the ready food supply in your feeders to relocate to a water source.

Backyard bird feeding is about more than making sure that the feeder has food in it. Its about creating a complete "bird friendly" environment in your backyard. In other words, trying to recreate the birds complete wildlife habitat within the boundaries of your section.
This actually isn't as hard as it sounds because birds have very basic requirements

  • Food

  • Water

  • Shelter

  • Safety from predators

 This is the easiest because if you are feeding the birds you are already doing this. You may want to start thinking about using different feeders around your yard to reduce competition and also cater for the different species of birds that we have in New Zealand.
While our popular Bottle Seed Feeders cater for all the seed eating birds, we have recently introduced Tube Feeders to our range. These feeders are designed to attract finches and other small birds to your yard. Often these birds, cant compete with the larger species for the food that is put out on other types of feeders, but Tube Feeders are made for them. In the wild these smaller birds will hold onto seed heads with their feet while pecking the seeds out, which is exactly the same actions required to feed from a tube Feeder. Because the Finches, in particular, feel more comfortable using these feeders they will spend more time in your backyard.

Birds need a constant supply of water if they are going to set up home in an area, both as a drinking supply and also to bathe in to control the mites in their feathers. A bird bath is the obvious

solution to providing this but any shallow bowl will do the trick.
 It important that the container has low sides or is made from glass so that the birds can keep a lookout for danger while they are bathing. If they don't feel safe, they will look for another water supply.

Many birds are seeking safe shelter in the branches, or nooks and crannies of large trees, or in the dense native bush where they have found safety for generations. Unfortunately the trees and native bush has all but disappeared from many areas, so we need to provide the birds with suitable alternatives if they are going to move into our backyards.
We have had great feedback from people who put up our nesting boxes at this time last year. Most report that the boxes were used throughout winter and spring as either a shelter or a home to raise the new family in.
It is quite important to put the boxes up in the autumn because it is during this time that the birds are searching for a suitable area to spend the hard winter months in.

Safety from predators
This is the hard one.
It's about compromise. Most backyards will never be 100% safe from predators, but then, there are very few natural habitats that are predator free either.
Try to site all feeders and nesting boxes where cats find it hard, or impossible to reach. In many cases hanging or pole mounted feeders will be the best solution to the problem.


Remember to Leave the Leaves
I mentioned this in last autumns newsletter and had several emails from people saying how surprised they were with the number of birds that spent time in the leaf piles.

When  you are raking up all the dead leaves in the garden this year don't mulch or compost them all, but instead build a pile of leaf litter in the back corner of the garden, or under some shrubs.

A pile of leaf litter becomes a home for worms and insects which many birds will be grateful for in the winter months. The pile will become a nesting site for some of the smaller species as well as providing nest building material for other birds.
These piles don't have to be large unsightly heaps of rotting leaf litter that detracts from the beauty of your garden. One or two small heaps placed under shrubs at the bottom of the garden will return great results.


Children's Photo Competition
Most children still have a weeks holiday left, and at this stage are probably starting to become a little bored with hanging around the house.
To help out all those parents and grandparents who are running out of ideas to keep the kids entertained, we have decided to have a Children's Photo Competition.

So give your kids the digital camera and send them out into the backyard for a few hours, while you enjoy the peace and quite. Or if you are feeling energetic take them to the local park.

The rules are simple

  • Open to any child that is still at school
  • All entries must be in by 30 May
  • The subject is "Backyard Birds"
  • All entries must be emailed to us in JPEG format as an attachment.

 All entries will be shown on our site and the winner will feature in our next newsletter, as well as winning a Window Bird Feeder (Timber) Plus 500gms of Wild Birdseed Mix.


Special Offer
This is the time to start putting nesting boxes up because it is now that the birds are searching for a suitable area to spend the winter in and then breed in the spring.
To help you look after your wild birds this autumn our Special allows you to buy two Starling Nesting Boxes or two Sparrow nesting Boxes and we will pay the freight,  a saving of up to $17.00
This special is only available until 30 June 2013

Special Offer is available at


 Bird Identification Online Course

This is a Department of Conservation online course that teaches you how to identify many New Zealand birds. It has video clips and audio of the birds as well as information on appearance and characteristics.
Although it is called a course, and you can actually gain a Doc recognized qualification, you can also just browse through the information for your own interest. It is well worth a look .

more information >>>>


New Products

We have recently introduced several new products to the site, that are already proving popular. If you haven't looked at our site for awhile please check them out.

Tube Feeders
Cottage Garden Collection
Bird Baths

Peep Hole Nesting Box
Watching  birds flying back and forward carrying their nesting materials, food for their young, and finally the chicks leaving the nest is interesting and fun, but even better is being able to see what is happening inside the nest box.
The Peep Hole Nesting Box has a Perspex viewing window on its side, normally covered by a plywood shutter. By sliding this aside you get an excellent, up-close view of what is happening inside the nest.
We tested these this year and had great results, they were impossible to walk past without taking a peek to see what was happening inside. 
more information >>>>

Would you like a FREE Peep Hole Nesting Box?
We have one of these neat Peep Hole Nesting Boxes to give away to a loyal newsletter subscriber. Just email us with "PEEP HOLE NESTING BOX" in the subject and we will put your name in the draw.
We will pick a winner on May 20 and email everyone that entered with the result.
PLEASE NOTE - To be eligible for this offer you must have been on our newsletter list before 26 April 2013.

Question and Answer Section

We get quite a few questions emailed to us and thought that others might  be having the same problems so we decided to share them.
Most we can answer but some we cant so if anyone has any solutions or tips please let us know so we can pass them on.
One we couldn't answer was
"we purchased a bird feeder we put up on a Waratah stake, the problem is that we can not stop the Pukeko birds from flying up to it, any clues apart from shooting them to keep them away"
Any suggestions?

Q "I recently bought a new birdfeeder but the birds haven't gone near it. What's wrong?"
 You first must make sure the birds can see the new feeder as they fly through your yard. Birds do not have a highly developed sense of smell so they locate food by sight. After they have located the feeder and are actively using it, you can move it to an area better for your viewing and they will find it. It might help to sprinkle a little birdseed on top of, underneath and around your new feeder to help the birds locate it.
 If you already have feeders in your yard and are adding another, you may have to take the old feeders down for a few days to "force" the birds to use the new one. Once they have accepted the new feeder you can put the others back in place.


Q "I have one of your feeders (two in fact)
All is well but the Tuis are not drinking much these days and I don’t know if there is much other food around. What I do have is quite a number of wasps around the feeders…would that scare them off??"
We are getting a lot of reports about wasps in the Tui Feeders this year.
With the hot summer the Tuis are finding food elsewhere but still coming to the feeders to get moisture, so you can dilute the syrup by about 50% with extra water. Most people find that this gets rid of the wasp problem and also seems to attract more Tuis.

try moving the feeder, even just a few feet; insects are not very smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever. They may never find it in its new location, while the Tuis will barely notice that it was moved. If that doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day, or until you stop seeing wasps looking for it. You'll see Tuis looking for it, too, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps.

Know Your NZ Birds

In this issue we have concentrated on the most common birds found in most New Zealand backyards. House Sparrow, Hedge Sparrows (Dunnock), and Wax-Eyes (White- Eye, Silver-Eye).
Most people will know these birds by sight but many will not know the differences between the male and females.

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 one was taken by Susan Parker, and is slightly unusual to see a Wax-Eye feeding on bread. Their normal diet is insects, fruit, and nectar.


NZ Backyard Birds


Tui Feeders

Seed Feeders

Bird Feeders

Nesting Boxes

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NZ Backyard Birds
09 4331728
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