Bird Feeders and Beyond – Everything You Need to Know

Bird Feeders and Beyond – Everything You Need to Know

March and April are excellent months to provide nesting, resting, feeding and water sites for birds in your garden. Here at cape Contours Landscaping we are taking some time to think about our feathered friends who add so much life and joy in our gardens and finding out what you can do to bring birds to your garden. Let’s discover everything you need to know about birdfeeders and beyond.


Clean lines and shapes and minimalist planting make this a dramatic garden!
Clean lines and shapes and minimalist planting make this a dramatic garden!

Autumn is usually a good time of year for the birds in your garden as many plants have gone to seed by now and are providing our garden birds with regular food. However, seeding grasses and fruiting plants and trees provide flushes of food during the year, but never complete continuity. Lately with our drought, many birds may be experiencing a shortage of available wild foraged food. Many plants have not flowered and therefore fruited as much during the summer months. Many of our gardens are quite lacking in available food sources for birds, but there are ways to help attract and feed the birds in your garden if you would like to give them a helping hand.

So how can we help our birds and should we?

There is debate about the latter, and some are of the opinion that if we feed them, then we encourage them to become reliant on us. Others feel it is our duty to assist them, seeing that we humans have been responsible for urban sprawl which robs them of the required natural habitats for their food sources.


A beautiful roof garden for night-time entertainment is dramatic and low maintenance.
A beautiful roof garden for night-time entertainment is dramatic and low maintenance.

Get creative with your birdfeeder ideas!


The best way is probably somewhere in the middle; we provide some extra food at times of food shortage, and don’t worry too much in times when food is plentiful. And this is probably what happens anyway. It’s all about balance as we know!

So what can we feed them?

Our common garden birds are a mix of seed, insect and nectar feeders. So if you are keen to help them , consider putting some birdseed, suet or mealworm and a bottled sugar/honey water-feeder in your garden to serve all the garden customer’s needs. Simple seed feeders generally consist of a tube and a tray below with small perches, hung from a tree branch, where smaller birds such as finches, white eyes, bulbuls, even Robins can land and feed. Pigeons and Doves and bigger birds cannot land on the smaller perches but they usually clean up the scattered seeds below.


Other bird feeders include platforms where bread, seed, fruit and suet and mealworms can placed. They often have spikes where fruit can be anchored for fruit eating birds. These bird feeders can be placed on top of a sturdy pole or hung from a tree branch to keep them safe from cats.

Green walls, glass, steel and architectural styling are elements in the contemporary garden

Birds feel safe on a simple hanging bird-feeding table with fruit, that cats can’t climb up.

Nectar feeders such as Sunbirds, Bulbuls, White-eyes love the sugar-water feeders that are coloured a bright red to attract birds that usually love red-flowered, nectar producing plants. A mixture of white sugar and warm water with a drop of red food colouring is all you need to attract a whole host of birds. Honey and brown sugar mixes tend to attract ants. You can even add in a teaspoon of Bovril or Marmite to give the birds a bit of protein in the mixture. These can be strung from a tree near a window to enable you to watch them from indoors for hours of bird watching for you and your pets.

Bird-friendly planting

Ideally, you should also plant a variety of indigenous plants that attract and feed our garden birds. There are so many plants and trees to choose from that will fit any garden style. A lot of the ones that birds love have red, orange and yellow flowers. This colour seems to advertise food for birds so go for these colours in your garden. Aloes, Watsonias, Wild Dagga (Leonotis spp.), Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia spp.), Cotyledons and other succulents, Wachendorfias, Lachenalia, Tecoma will attract nectar feeding birds such as the sunbird. Seed eating birds are attracted to the seed heads of grasses and grains like Restios, Aristida, Pennisetums and other smaller sedges. Seed eaters also love the seeds of ordinary daisies such as Euryops, Dimorpotheca, Gazanias, Arctotis daisies. Leave the dried out dead heads for as long as you can to give the birds time to take most of the seed at the end of summer. To attract fruit eating birds, such as the Loeries, plant fruit producing plants. Try the tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), Assegaai (Curtisia dentata), Dune crow-berry (Rhus crenata) or white stinkwood (Celtis africana).

Edgy rusty steel retaining and hardy succulent planting around a circular lawn
Edgy rusty steel retaining and hardy succulent planting around a circular lawn

Plant orange and red flowered and berried plants in your garden to encourage the birds

Water and nesting sites

These are also very important to encourage birds to your garden. Birds need access to clean and fresh water regularly and need to bathe and drink every day. Putting out a shallow bird bath which allows them to safely go in without needing to swim will encourage birds to splash and enjoy the water in your garden. Place it somewhere where some foliage cover will give them overhead or nearby perches to fly to if they feel vulnerable. Bird baths come in various shapes and sizes, but most importantly, they should be anchored securely so that they don’t topple over. Nesting sites for birds are best found in thick creeper-like foliage and bushy shrubs and trees that hide them from overhead predators like crows, raptors and other birds that prey on smaller birds. Grasses, including reeds and bulrushes are valuable suppliers of nesting material to weavers who suspend their nests from trees.

Enjoy the birds in your garden and they will reward you with their beauty and joy they can bring to the whole family. Encourage your kids to learn the names of the birds in your garden and get them involved in making their own bird feeders to hang near their bedroom windows to see them close up. Research the information you don’t know about them, what they like to eat and where they prefer to nest and encourage them to your garden this month.

Colour in the garden from hardy perennials, succulents and grasses in a cohesive design

Common White-eyes are a regular visitor to seed tables and nectar feeders in the Cape

Image Sources & Credits:

Life is A Garden



Birding Ecotours




By | 2017-04-05T11:46:31+00:00 April 2nd, 2017|DIY Garden Guide, Garden Design Tips|1 Comment

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Landscaping Solutions from the team at Cape Contours. We are always looking for garden design tips and tricks that we can share with our followers.

One Comment

  1. Suzette Hitge April 10, 2017 at 7:41 am - Reply

    White sugar and red colouring VERY bad for birds!!! Use brown sugar and no colouring or get syrup or powder for sunbirds from Agri

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