Year Round Food Supply through Plant Selection
Attracting wildlife and in particular, native birds to your backyard can be as simple as planting some native flowering trees or shrubs. However if you want to have birds and other native wildlife all year round you will need to provide them with a reason stay or to continue to return through the different seasons.
This is done by planting a broad variety of native plant species that flower, fruit and produce seed at alternate times throughout the year. By planting a diversity of plant species you will create a valuable food resource for a variety of native wildlife species throughout the entire year rather than just for one season.
Creating a Year Round Food Supply
When planning and selecting plants for your wildlife friendly backyard the aim is to provide a constant supply of food for a variety of native animals. The key to this is the provision of plants that will flower and produce seed and fruit throughout the year, not just in one season. This will minimise the chances of your new backyard residents having to pack up and move on when the food runs out. This is not as complicated as it may sound. When selecting your plants simply check the tag to see when it flowers and/or produces seed/fruit/nuts.
Use this simple planner to record the plant species you have chosen and when they flower or fruit. As you fill in this planner you will be able to see where you have gaps in your year round food supply and will also help you track the types of birds and other wildlife that will be attracted to your garden at different times of the year.
If you only have a small backyard or garden area, you can still achieve this. With the innovation and creation of many hybrid and cultivar varieties of native plants there are now many dwarf compact varieties of common native trees and flowing shrubs. Varieties such as banksia, callistemon (now melaleuca) and syzygium (lilly pilly) can be found in most local native plant nurseries. In addition, there are many native plants that will grow quite happily in pots and not become too large or require large amounts of space in your garden.
Avoid planting only nectar producing species such as grevilleas and their associated hybrids that produce a constant supply of nectar and attract the larger more dominant honey eaters, rainbow lorikeets and noisy miners. These birds can become very aggressive towards other birds (large and small) and either attack or chase them away. Try to plant a range of flowering native trees and shrubs that will provide protection for smaller birds and that don’t only produce flowers at the tips of their branches.
Many flowering plants also attract nectar feeding insects which in turn provides an additional food source not only to honeyeaters, who also rely on insects as a part of their diet, but to the many other small insectivorous birds such as fantails, robins, martins, wrens, thornbills and pardalotes.
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Useful Tips and Facts
- Create urban wildlife corridors and stepping stones to larger local bushland or parkland areas.
- In nature there is no such thing as waste everything is linked and contributes to the cycle. As a plant reaches the end of its life cycle it is not discarded by nature, instead it provides habitat for animals and food for micro-organisms as it lies on the ground, the waste from the micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi feeding on it replace nutrients and organic material to the soil for new plants to grow.
- Plant local native species
- The best way to attract native wildlife to your backyard is to provide a variety of healthy natural foods in the form of seeds, leaves, flowers, nectar, pollen, fruits and nuts throughout the year.
- The use of pesticides and herbicides can damage your soils and kill non target species. The poisoning of insects with chemicals can also cause larger species relying on those insects as a food source to become sick or even die from eating poisoned insects.
- To create habitat for smaller native birds you can grow shrubs close together to create dense corners or pockets in your garden which will provide protection and refuge from larger aggressive birds such as noisy miners
- Wattles (Acacias). While most wattles only live between 6 - 10 years, they are an important pioneer species which colonise disturbed areas, where other plants find it hard to grow. They improve soil conditions enough to allow other species to germinate and thrive by fixing nitrogen into the soil through their roots and adding high levels of organic leaf litter.