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

 

        Summer - 2013 - 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Welcome to the summer edition of the New Zealand Backyard Birds newsletter.  Once again it seems like everyone  has decided to give bird feeders for presents this year but fortunately we learned our lesson last year and are keeping up with the orders coming in.

If you are in the South Island or sending a present to someone who is, you should be aware that freight is taking a little longer this year because of the ferry loosing its propeller and being out of service.

A big thank you to all those who have placed orders with us, or signed up to our newsletter this year. You have helped to make it another busy but fantastic year for us. We are really enjoying building a business based on our desire to see birds coming back and living in our New Zealand urban environments.

We have had an incredible amount of feedback this year from customers telling us about birds coming to their feeders that haven't been seen in their area for many years.
Many of our customers are also telling us of the increasing number of birds using the nesting boxes this season which is a good sign that these birds have ceased to be visitors to an area and are now setting up home, and intend to live there all year round.

Summer is a fairly stress free time to be a backyard bird feeder. Most birds have raised their first chicks and these are old enough to be able to fend for themselves. Their parents will have shown them where to find food and many of you will notice the increase in numbers around the feeders as these chicks start looking after themselves.

The important thing at this time of year is to keep your bird baths topped up and, if possible, keep an area of the garden moist to encourage insects and worms, as well as make it easier for the ground feeding birds to dig into the ground. The moist dirt will also help the Swallows with their nest building.

Don' be to alarmed if you see young birds on the ground. These are usually "nest hoppers" that have left the nest before mastering the art of flight. The best help you can give is put the cats inside and stand guard at a discrete distance while the parents sort out the problem.
This is not unusual and doesn't normally mean that there is anything wrong with the bird, most young birds will end up on the ground sometime during their flight training

 

 

 




Tips for a Healthy Bird Bath.


Why a bird bath. You can attract more species of birds to your yard with a birdbath then you can with food. Putting out food for birds will attract only those birds who eat that particular food or seed, but putting out a bird bath will attract birds no matter what they eat. All birds need to wash and drink, and water is often much more difficult to find then food in summer. Take a look around your neighbourhood after a few sunny days and you will be surprised how few puddles or pools of water you will find.

When you have a birdbath you can be certain of an increase in the amount of birds in your backyard, and the amount of time you get to see them up close and personal. The birds will take their time bathing, splashing, and playing, and then fluttering up to a nearby branch to preen and re-arrange their feathers, giving you more time to enjoy them.

Keep it Shallow. Birds don't bathe in deep water. Keep the level in your birdbath to about two inches or less. This is perfect for most New Zealand birds to wade into and splash around. If your bird bath is deep, place a layer of gravel or some large, flat stones in the bottom to offer birds a choice of water levels. This will also also give bathing birds better footing while using the bath which is important if you want the birds to feel less vulnerable while they bathe

Where to place the bird bath.  You'll want to put the bird bath where you can view it. You need to be able to see it from wherever you will be spending much of your time: the living room, kitchen window, or the deck. And it needs to have easy access for cleaning and refilling, so near a garden tap is also another must.

Cover Nearby. Just as you need the bath to be where you can see it, the birds need to have some protective cover nearby (but not too close). This will give the birds a place from which they can approach the bath, and a place to flee to should danger approach. If this is not possible place a wooden perch close to your birdbath (but not over it!) to give the birds an easy landing place when flying to and from the bath. This will make the bath more "approachable" for the more nervous birds who will use the perch as a place to scan for danger and a place to preen their feathers after bathing.

Shady. One reason that the birds use your birdbath is to cool off. You can keep your water temperature cooler by placing the bath in a shady spot in your backyard. A bath placed out in the open in direct sunlight will have heated water, which will also cause the bath water to evaporate more quickly. The warmer water will also encourage algae growth.
When searching for a shady spot you may have to compromise, avoid placing it too near shrubbery or heavy overgrowth where the neighbourhood cats can hide.

Keep It Clean. Wild birds prefer clean water and it is amazing how many more birds will come to use a clean birdbath. Left alone, leaves, feathers, sticks, insects, and other things will accumulate in the water of your birdbath. To clean your bath scrub it out with a stiff-bristled brush and use an abrasive cleaner on hard-to-remove algae. With extremely dirty baths you may have to resort to using bleach-water (a capful of bleach or Janola in a bucket of water will do the job). Rinse well and refill with clean water.

Algae can be a real problem with most birdbaths and one old time remedy that many people have success with is putting a piece of copper (usually old water pipe) into the bath. On person described it as "nothing short of miraculous! Not only did the algae stop growing, but every day a little bit more of it scrubs off the bottom of the birdbaths. It's even coming up out of the little indentations where the scrubbing brush doesn't reach."

Add Motion. Nothing makes a birdbath more attractive to wild birds than moving water. Moving water sparkles in the sunlight and catches the attention of birds.

You can invest in a garden fountain which are available at most DIY shops like Bunnings or Mitre 10, or an inexpensive option is to use a mister or dripper nozzle which are designed to be part of a home irrigation system. When attached to your hose (with the tap turned on low) either of these will add motion to your bath.  Moving water has the additional benefit of preventing successful reproduction of mosquitoes in it. Mosquitoes need still water for successful reproduction.


How to Make a Homemade Birdbath Dripper for Your Yard

A dripper is a great addition to the birdbath in your garden. The sound and the moving or rippling water are very attractive to the wild birds.
This site shows you how you can make your own simple birdbath dripper out of recycled materials that will save on water usage while still providing the birds with the moving water they enjoy.

click here to visit site


 

Top 10 Christmas Gifts

It seems like Wild Bird Feeders and Houses are going to be popular gifts again this year.
To help you decide on a gift we have listed our most popular selling products this Christmas, in order of popularity.
You can click on any product to see full details on our website
Don't forget that we
can include a handwritten gift card with the purchase containing any message you may wish to send.

We provide these cards free of charge. We purchase our cards from local charities such as the SPCA and Hospice when they are fund raising during the year. These cards are of superior quality and we can normally find one suitable for any occasion or age group.

  • Tui Bottle FeederThese are popular throughout the year but really come into their own as a Christmas gift. It is surprising how many customers tell us throughout the year that they first heard about us when they received a Tui Feeder as a gift.
     

  • Dove Cotes - Our cotes are popular gifts throughout the year but far more so at this time of year. The largest group of buyers are husbands buying a gift for their wives
     

  • Tea Cup Bird Feeder - Our customers are buying these for elderly relatives and friends who are in smaller apartments to put on their decks
     

  • Tui and Seed Feeder Combo - This combo deal is proving very popular. They are excellent buying because there is no postage charge.
     

  • Christmas Special Package - We have only been selling these for 3 weeks and already they have become our 4th biggest seller. Many people are buying these as a gift to the family.
    They contain a Small Tui Feeder, Small Seed Feeder, Fruit Feeder, Suet Feeder and 1 Kg of Wild Bird Seed

     

  • Kitset Bird Feeder - We are really pleased how popular these are because we are really proud of them. They are simple enough for an 8 -year-old to tackle alone, and for younger children with the help of an adult.
     

  • Kitset Bird House - These are coming a very close second to the Kitset Bird Feeders. These kitsets give children a real sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing they have taken some basic materials and constructed a really cool bird house
     

  • Window Bird Feeders - These are popular all year but really come into their own as a Christmas gift for an older person. We have received some great feedback telling us how much these were enjoyed by housebound relatives.
     

  • Hanging Tea Cup Feeder - These look good in any garden and this year are being sent as gifts to both older people and young couples.
     

  • Coconut Feeder - These are ideal for people looking for a lower priced gift. We have sold a lot of these to younger customers buying for their grandparents.

 


 

Wild Birds and Domesticated Cats


Many people will have been upset to discover that feeding wild birds and owning domestic cats do not go well together.
While this is defiantly true it doesn't mean that you cant feed birds if you also have a family cat. It is virtually impossible to train cats, even the gentlest pets, to avoid the hunting instinct that can injure or kill wild birds. While some training methods may be effective, it is often easier to control a cat’s behaviour to minimize interaction with wild birds

We have three cats and the two younger ones are real hunters who regularly present us with baby rabbits (which we save and release) and mice.

We feed our birds and cats at the same time, working on the theory that a cat cant eat and hunt at the same time. Our cats are fed every morning and again in the early evening. Once they are eating we block of their cat door and then fill our bird feeders. The local birds know what time the feeders are filled and generally can be seen sitting in the surrounding trees waiting. We keep the cats inside for about an hour and by that time the birds have had their fill and are going about their daily business.
Since we started this practice our cats have not presented us with any dead birds.

Other good practices to protect your wild birds are:

  • Avoid putting food on the ground, always use a pole mounted bird table made so that cats cant get onto it.
     
  • Warratah standards are better than timber posts to mount tables or other feeders on because cats cant climb these.
     
  • Place feeders high off the ground but away from surfaces from which a cat could jump.
     
  • Clean up seed that has fallen under feeders this encourages birds to go onto the ground to feed.
     
  • Position nest boxes where cats cannot reach them or sit close to them (preventing the parent birds from getting to the box). A good idea is to mount the boxes well above a fence using a 50 x 25mm batten.
    For some reason the nesting box below is not being used this year.


 

 


Know Your NZ Birds

 

 Know Your NZ Birds
The Rock Pigeon is known by several other names including feral pigeon, rock dove, and street pigeon.
They are a common sight in most New Zealand towns and cities, and can also be found in our rural areas
.
Most New Zealand bird feeders in urban areas will eventually have one or two of these birds visit their feeding tables
Read Article >>>
 



Question and Answer Section

Q. "My partner and I are moving into our first home next week and after years of living in a inner city apartment I am looking really forward to feeding birds in our backyard. What feeders do you suggest?
We want a Tui feeder and seed feeder, a fruit feeder and suet feeder. Do you think we need a platform feeder as well?" Regards Jill

A. When starting to feed birds it is best to start small with one or two feeders and gradually build up the number and type of feeders as you gain experience and also get to know what local birds are in the area and what feed they are attracted to.
An ideal starting combination is a Tui Feeder and a seed feeder, which will allow you to attract the two main groups of birds in New Zealand, the nectar feeders like the tuis and waxeyes, as well as the seed feeders which includes finches, sparrows and many other common New Zealand backyard birds.
Once you have found the best locations for these feeders and are being inundated with visitors every day, you can then add more of the same type of feeders or try other types which will attract different species.
Don't concentrate solely on bird feeders to attract the birds to your yard but use bird baths, nesting boxes, plantings and mulch to provide the ideal bird habitat.


 

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.
These photos of a California quail perched in a peach tree were taken in Titoki, Whangarei by our very own Keith Macleod  trying out his new camera (an early Christmas present)

 

 

 


NZ Backyard Birds


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NZ Backyard Birds
09 4331728
Email - sales@backyardbirds.co.nz

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