Turn your garden into a flurry of feathered activity by choosing a selection of plants that will produce an abundance of food over a long period of time. Australian natives are a great choice as they are available in colours known to attract wildlife, and are particularly laden with nectar and seeds – both of which birds love. Here are six native plants known to seduce our feathered friends.
Many grevillea species are highly desirable to birds because of the nectar produced. To attract a variety of bird species, consider planting both large- and small-flowered cultivars. Grevillea ‘Fire Sprite’ has large, showy flowers offering plenty of nectar, while Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ is a smaller variety providing plenty of protection.
These are like a buffet for nectar-feeding and seed-eating birds, such as wattlebirds and cockatoos. Many species also flower in winter, when other natural food sources are scarce. Try Banksia ericifolia, which produces orange flower spikes through autumn and winter, providing ample nectar for many bird species.
If you don’t have room for a small tree or shrub, consider this option. Kangaroo paw used to be hard to grow in some locations, but modern breeding has meant varieties will now flourish just about anywhere. All species have strap- like leaves and tubular flowers that attract honeyeaters. Try the Bush Gems range, which is compact and free flowering, or the red and green kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos manglesii), which features flowers borne on 600mm stems.
Bursting into bloom from early spring, bottlebrush delivers rich pickings for birds. They also provide shelter and nesting material, and attract insects. Tree shapes and sizes vary considerably, so there’s one suitable for just about any garden. Plant crimson bottlebrush to lure nectar-feeders, or the weeping bottlebrush, which gives excellent protective cover for small birds and an abundance of nectar for honeyeaters.
A bird magnet! Insectivorous birds, such as robins and some honeyeaters, use these trees for shelter, while cockatoos, rosellas and native pigeons favour the seeds. Several wattle varieties have nectar glands on the leaf stalk, such as Sydney golden wattle Acacia longifolia, which attracts small honeyeaters and insects.
These trees often have hollows in the trunk or branch forks, which provide shelter. Eucalypts, such as scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma), also bear nectar and fruit so you might find honeyeaters and other nectar-feeding birds enjoying the blossoms, and cockatoos and rosellas feeding on the fruit.