SWEET TREATS: Lorikeets enjoy the nectar of the eucalyptus flowers.
SWEET TREATS: Lorikeets enjoy the nectar of the eucalyptus flowers. Merrillie

Give your garden over to the birds: Expert tips

HAVING native birds in your garden can be a great pleasure. Not only do you enjoy their visual display and their song, but they benefit from having food and shelter.

Remember that birds are not just attracted by the nectar in the flowers, they might also look for shelter, nesting materials and/or nesting sites.

Finches and other small birds prefer plants with dense prickly foliage like hakeas, acacias and banksias. Grevilleas and callistemon not only provide precious nectar for all the honey- eaters and parrots they are also quite dense and provide shelter for many birds. The flowers of banksias and correas, as well as leptospermum, some eucalypt and some melaleucas are also full of nectar.

Other native understory plants which are good for shelter and nesting sites are the austrostipa species, correa species, small grevilleas, hardenbergia violaceae and westringias as well as natives grasses like lomandras, poas, themedas ( in dry areas) and maybe dianellas.

Trees and shrubs which are good for nesting include example acacia boormanii, cultriformis, floribunda and paradoxa, banksia serrata, baeckea linifolia, callistemon citrinus, some eucalypt species, grevillea juniperina, hakea salicifolia, kunzea ambigua and ericoides, leptospermum, melaleuca species.

For nectar and honey lovers we of course have the range of grevilleas, again callistemons and banksias, correas, eucalypt and melaleuca species and leptospermum. A friend who knows a lot about birds, told me they quite often go for yellow and red flowers. Most of the nectar producing natives also attract insects, which again attract birds. Leptospermum or melaleucas attract a lot of insects.

Melaleucas, with that bark, leptospermum as well as grasses supply superb nesting materials. Seed and fruit eating birds, like the rosellas or king parrot must love all the banksias and acacias and eucalyptus and leptospermium, as well as all the native grasses, are full of seeds. I often see rosellas eating lomandra seeds.

If you already have some bird attracting plants in your garden and you have a few more spots to plant out, plant other natives. Birds love variety. They need some plants to eat the nectar, some rather dense plants to find shelter and grasses for nesting materials.

Once you've prepared a planting plan, you can look forward to the beauty of having native birds in your yard.