Summer definitely means spending heaps of time outdoors. We very rarely ever eat indoors during the summer months, and the best part of dining outside is that you can hose down the floor and throw the bottles in a cardboard box. The other positive element is that one can commune with nature and check out all the things that come into the garden, hopefully not burglars, but birds, insects, marsupials and your neighbours kids looking for their ball.
Birds play such an important role to the ecology of any garden – they bring the garden alive and eat the insects that eat your plants. It’s important to create a garden that attracts more than the larger birds such as magpies, ravens, butcherbirds, wattle birds, cuckoo-shrikes and parrots. Many of these birds will own and occupy the upper canopy of the garden and chase away the little honey eaters and insectivore birds. These are the birds like willywag tails, robins, whistlers, flycatchers, fantails, warblers, wrens, thornbills and the smaller honeyeaters.
One way of ensuring the little birds come to play in your garden is to create a 3-tiered garden that has an upper and mid level canopy and grasses and ground covers for the birds hunting insects. Its all about providing a safe habitat for them to hunt and feed in. Place a few shrubs that grow to 3-4m in a group planting. If you want to attract the smaller wrens and robins, have a supply of insects for them to feed on and if the shrubs are prickly, thats all the better. Hakea, wattle, banksia, calothmnus, grevillea and melaleuca will give the smaller birds a safe haven from the bigger bully-birds.
Always have a source of water up of the ground and keep it filled with fresh water, particularly during the summer months. Before you place the birdbath or water container, think as a cat would and work out the safest place for birds to drink or bath. Even if you don’t own a cat, your neighbours might, and if they know there’s a fast food outlet nearby, they will certainly frequent it.
If you intend to feed birds, make it an irregular habit. Birds become very dependent on a food supply and can forget how to forage for themselves. If you either move house or leave for extended periods of time, the birds who have had meals on wheels delivered to them daily may starve. Regular feeding can upset birds digestive system, transfer diseases and certainly affect their breeding cycles. Firstly, do some research into the most appropriate food for a particular breed of bird. I can guarantee, highly processed white bread will not be part of any birds natural diet. If you are buying bird seed check to make sure the packet is not full of noxious weed seeds. Many a strange and wondrous plant has come up from packets of bird seed.
Like anything else we do in and around our homes, we need to be responsible when interacting with nature, enjoy it in a caretaking role, not one of dominance. Thats the first ommmm for the year.