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


        Autumn 2014

Tui feeding on flax . The photo was taken on New Years eve with a flash in dense fog.
Jon Anda  - Motueka

Autumn is coming
 In some parts of New Zealand autumn has already arrived while other areas are enjoying a longer than normal summer. In the Whangarei region we have only had one rainy day since Christmas and there still isnt any in sight.

 Early autumn is a time of plenty for the birds. As long as the weather remains mild, the natural food supply will be good and you will find that your wild birds wont visit your feeders so often. They instinctively prefer the natural food in the form of seeds and berries. It can be quite late in the season before the birds start showing  much interest in our feeders again.  Just keep a little food in the feeders, so that as birds pass through they will see there is food there and remember it for later when food becomes scarce. Make sure that the food remains fresh – you may need to change it from time to time.

 It is important that you do keep supplying food in your feeders over this time even if it seems no birds are visiting. Autumn is the time when birds establish winter feeding grounds and scout good food sources. You might notice birds are singing a bit more than they did during the late “summer lull” when things seemed to get a bit quiet. That’s because birds use their calls and songs to let other birds know where their territories begin and end. Those territories may be different now than they were in summer. The food sources in the birds’ nesting areas may be used up, forcing the birds to look elsewhere for a new supply.

Remember that the birds are also searching for shelter that they can use during the coming wet, cold, and windy months so it is important to clean out your nesting boxes and maybe think about putting up some new ones if you have the space.

At this time of year you can put the nesting boxes closer together than you would in spring. This is because many birds prefer to nest and raise their young away from other birds but in the autumn and winter they prefer to live in flocks or at least in the company of other birds. Grouping nesting boxes can make an attractive feature in your backyard.

Speaking of nesting boxes, we were delighted to hear from so many of our customers this summer who emailed to tell us that their nesting boxes were all being used. This was our experience as well, every one of our nesting boxes had a family occupying it. It is really unusual  that all boxes are in use, in a normal spring we would expect to see about 75% of our boxes in use, but for some reason this last spring and summer was an excellent one for the nesting birds.

We have also received some good feedback regarding our suggestion in the last newsletter on making a bird bath dripper to attract more birds. Many people tried it and were surprised at just how many birds started to visit their bird baths.

Mothers Day Special

This year Mothers Day falls on Sunday 11 May.
Last year our most popular Mothers Day Gifts were our Window Bird Feeders and our Teacup Bird Feeders, so this year we are offering these with a FREE 1kg of our Wild Bird Seed.

Please remember that we are happy to include a handwritten gift card with the gift containing any message you may wish to send.


"Floral" Teacup Bird Feeder
Plus 1Kg of Wild Birdseed Mix - $35.00
NZ Wide Freight = $8.50


Window Bird Feeder (Timber)
Plus 1Kg of Wild Birdseed Mix - $25.00
NZ Wide Freight = $6.00

Offer valid until May 10 2014


Keeping Bird Seed Fresh.

Fresh bird seed is the most effective way to attract wild birds to your yard for viewing. In the wild birds would normally only eat freshly grown seeds so seed that is moldy or spoiled in any way is not attractive to them.
Below are some tips on storing bird seed, what types of seed to use, and how to use seed effectively to feed wild birds.

Keep Bird Feeder Seed Fresh
It may sound obvious, but this aspect of bird feeding is often overlooked. If your feeder is still fairly full and you are having very little to no activity at your feeder, then it’s time to change your seed. Wild birds will not eat seed that is rancid, moldy, or insect infested, so make sure your seed is as fresh as possible to ensure that your feeders are attracting all the wild birds possible.

Store Bird Seed in Proper Containers
It is a good idea to buy a proper storage container for your bird seed. You can find a relatively cheap air tight container in Briscoes or the Wharehouse.
You will find that your bird seed will stay fresh longer and the wild birds will defiantly find it more enjoyable

Keep Bird Seed Storage Containers Clean
Clean containers make a big difference. Clean containers will make your seed last much longer and in turn will save you money.
Also remember to keep your wild bird seed feeders clean as well, not only will this keep the seed fresh but it also helps to prevent sickness and disease amongst the wild bird population.

Store Bird Seed in a Cool, Dry Place
Keeping your bird seed stored in a cool, dry area will help ensure its freshness. Avoid storing your bird seed outdoors if you can. A good storage place is in a garage or dry garden shed

Check Bird Seed for Freshness
Keep an eye on the seed in your bird feeders and containers. At the first sign that your seed may be going bad or have insects in it, get rid of it. Remember, the fresher the seed, the more likely you are to get more wild birds at your feeders.

Buy Fresh Bird Seed
Seed will be fresh when it is delivered from the manufacturer to retailers but it can go stale the longer it sits on the shelf. Many supermarkets and pet shops don't sell a great deal of wild bird seed so it may have been sitting on the shelf for some time. Make sure you check all seed for signs of mould and insects before you buy it.

Spoil your wild birds with a Seed Wreath

With the school holidays and Mothers Day both just around the corner, this seed wreath may be a good project for children with time on their hands to tackle.


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup

  • 1 package unflavoured gelatin

  • 4 cups bird seed (you can also add in some dried fruits and peanuts)

  •  Bundt pan or other mold

  •  Nonstick cooking spray


  • Stir the gelatin into the warm water until dissolved. Whisk in the golden syrup and flour. Stir well, until there are no more lumps. It will make a thick sticky paste.

  • Mix the seeds with the paste in a large bowl, using a spatula to stir it with. The mixture will start getting very sticky. Make sure it’s well mixed to keep the wreath from falling apart.

  • Spray the bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Using the spatula, press the seed mixture into the pan. Be sure to press the mixture down firmly until
    it’s well packed and even. Set the pan aside overnight.

  • The mixture will harden and turn white, and the surface will be firm and dry when it’s ready. Test by pressing gently on the surface, and allow more setting time if it’s at all soft.

  • Once the wreath is hard, gently remove it from the mold by turning it upside down onto a plate. Allow to stand for several more days to completely harden before hanging outside.


Wild Bird Energy Truffles and Energy Cakes

Many of our customers use Energy Truffles and Cakes as a simple, no mess method of feeding their wild birds a high energy supplement over the winter months.

Recently we have had several emails asking how well the Wild Bird Energy Truffles and Cakes preformed in hot weather from customers who wanted to feed them out during the breeding season and also in times of drought. Their main concern was that they would melt in the heat.

This summer we took advantage of Northland's hot weather to test them out.

We choose a shady position and hung a truffle and energy cake inside a bird cage, because we didn't want the birds eating our experiment before we had the results.
For 14 days we checked them every day at mid-day. During this time the daily highs ranged between 26 and 24 degrees.

Both the Energy Truffle and the Energy Cake passed their test with flying colours. They stayed hard throughout the 14 days and showed no sign of melting.




Unusual Nesting Boxes


These bird and bug boxes have been installed by art and architecture collective London Fieldworks around trees across London in clusters inspired by the neighbouring housing complexes.

Many everyday objects can be given a second life as a wild bird shelter. An old Teapot from the local Op Shop can make an unusual but attractive bird house and it only cost $3.00

Know Your NZ Birds


 Know Your NZ Birds
Skylarks can be found throughout NZ, mainly in open country like dunes and farm land. Their diet consists of seeds, such as grasses, cereals, clover and weeds; also invertebrates such as beetles, flies, spiders, and bugs.
Read Article >>>

Question and Answer Section

Q. Good afternoon
 I wonder if you have any suggestions regarding the following? I rescued two thrush fledglings who had fallen from their nest. One could just fly, the other hadn't quite reached that stage. Sadly, the first one died having been caught by one of my cats, the second one died also I think because I fed it too much mashed ripe banana. I had bought a bird cage and placed the second bird inside but the poor mother was, I realised later, intimated by the cage and simply couldn't fed her baby which was when I decided to feed little soul. I was so disappointed and thought, in view of their vulnerability (I have four cats) it will doubtless happen again and I need a more suitable cage to put the birds in until they are ready to fly. That's where I thought Backyard Birds might be able to help?
Thank you Barbara

A.  We have the same problem at this time of year with young "hoppers" These are the birds that jump from their nests but don't learn to fly on the way down and so end up on the ground. Unfortunately they are very vulnerable to cats while they are on the ground and there is not much you can do except be faster than the cats and catch them first.
 When we catch one or rescue one from our cats we put it in a dark place (our laundry hamper) until we can round up all our cats and shut them in a room. Sometimes we have to wait until their meal time until we can get them all. Then we simply take the chick back to where we found it and the parents are always still hanging around. Put the chick on the ground and the parents will look after it basically feeding it and encouraging it to fly. This normally takes 1 to 3 hours and then the chick is up and away.
The only "cage" I have heard of that keeps the chick safe from cats and allows the parents to feed it is a wire mesh enclosure using wire netting and wooden stakes about 1.0m in diameter and 900mm high. Several of our customers with pet cats keep one permanently made up at this time of year and put any chicks they find in it.

Don't worry if it is some distance from where you originally found the chick because parents can hear their cries from over 500 meters away.

Photos of the Month

"These are photos of my resident fantails. I took your advice and stopped cleaning up by backyard so fanatically. I left some peaches that had dropped of the tree and was delighted with the fantails that arrived every evening at dusk to feed on the small fruit flies.
We have never had fantails in our yard before but these 2 have been here for over a month now. The peaches are long gone and now I am putting out peeled bananas to attract the fruit flies
Gene Harper - Hamilton


After reading your article on attracting Kereru our family decided to try and attract some to our backyard. We have seen them in our local park so we hoped that we could "lure" some into our yard.
Within 3 weeks we had one feeding of our feed tray and for several nights at dusk we, and our neighbours, were treated to a spectacular aerobatic display as a male tried to impress our female Kereru.
The flying must have done the trick because on the 3rd night they sat together on a branch and became very affectionate (as shown in the photo) which ended in them mating.
To see this happening in our North Shore suburban backyard was incredible and very special.
We are not sure where they are nesting but both of them visit our backyard several times a day to feed.
The Walker Family - Mirangi Bay


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

Please Note - We will be closed between May 10th and June 18th to allow us to take a long overdue holiday. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but being a small family run business, closing down for this period was our only option.



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These Kitsets are great projects for children and adults alike.