Planting for Wildlife
Australian Native Plants That Attract Birds
If birds are to visit a garden they need to be able to find food, water and shelter. Australian native plants provide our local birds with all their requirements and planting a native garden will ensure a continual supply of food for our native birds and they in return will give hours of pleasure with their antics.
Small birds will often seek dense, prickly vegetation when they want to evade domestic cats or larger birds. Nectar-loving birds will look for grevilleas and callistemons to supply their needs. By planting a variety of shrubs, groundcovers and trees, you will entice a diverse group of birds to your garden.
If you are looking for medium sized shrubs for your garden, there is a multitude available of up to four metres high.
The acacias are wattles and there is a great choice. Acacia myrtifolia or Myrtle Wattle is small and has a profuse display of globular, cream or yellow flowers through winter and spring. Wattles are not the most long-lived of species which need not be a bad thing as you get the chance to try something else after five to ten years. The Myrtle wattle produces a good quantity of seed which will be eagerly taken by parrots and pigeons. This species is also tolerant of frost.
Tonghi Bottlebrush has the scientific name of Callistemon subulatus. It has crowded leaves and deep red flower spikes from October to December. Both leaves and flowers are around 5 to 6cm long. To promote a more bushy growth, the shrub can be pruned after flowering.
The Rock Correa (Correa glabra) has dense foliage and tubular flowers. The flowers are usually pale green but there are now forms available with red and pink flowers. Flowering occurs mainly between May and August. It should be lightly pruned regularly and is suitable for areas which receive frost.
The foliage of the lemon-scented Darwinia (Darwinia citriodora) is an attractive grey-green. It has a spicy aroma with yellow-green and red flowers appearing from April to November. This species can be damaged by frost.
Epacris longiflora or Fuchsia Heath has narrow tubular flowers to 3cm long. The flowers are highly decorative being red with white tips. The main flowering season is from May to January. It is frost resistant and responds well to light to medium pruning.
There are any number of grevilleas which will attract birds. The Variable Prickly Grevillea (Grevillea Aquifolium) bears red and green toothbrush flower heads from September to February. It is best planted in a warm, well-drained position and will cope with droughts and frosts.
Grevillea longistyla is bushy and flowers from June to November. The cultivar Grevillea 'Poorinda Queen' has unusual pale orange to apricot flowers which appear in clusters along the branches. It flowers for most of the year so provides nectar for birds over a long period of time.
Melaleuca lateritia has the common name of Red Robin Bush and is endemic to Western Australia. It is very adaptable and can be planted in full sun or semi-shade in moist or well-drained soils.
The New South Wales Waratah is that state's floral emblem. The spectacular red flowers appear from September to November. Its scientific name is Telopea speciosissima.
By encouraging birds to the garden, the number of insects will be greatly reduced. As well as having spectacular displays of flowers and the joy of having birds visiting your garden, you will have less insect pests to contend with.