Love your Garden Birds? We love birds too! Here at Cape Contours Landscaping, we are thinking about our feathered friends who add much life and joy to our gardens. As much as March and April are excellent months to do Autumn Garden Maintenance, it is also the best time to provide nesting, resting, feeding and water sites for birds in your garden.
HOW CAN YOU ENCOURAGE GARDEN BIRDS TO VISIT YOUR GARDEN MORE OFTEN?
To attract garden birds, you must create a bird-friendly garden! Let’s discover everything you need to know about birdfeeders and beyond and precisely what you need to do to bring birds to your 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 offer flushes of food during the year but never complete continuity. Lately, many birds may be experiencing a shortage of available wild foraged food due to Global Warming and less rain falling. Many plants have not flowered and therefore fruited as much during the summer months. Many of our gardens are pretty lacking in available food sources for birds. Fortunately, 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 garden BIRDS, AND SHOULD WE?
Humans have been responsible for urban sprawl, which robs them of the required natural habitats for their food sources. There is debate about the latter, and some believe that if we feed our Garden Birds, we encourage them to become reliant on us. Others feel we must assist them.s.
Get creative with your birdfeeder ideas!
It’s all about balance, as we know! 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.
WHAT DO YOU FEED GARDEN BIRDS IN SOUTH AFRICA?
Our common garden birds are a mix of seed, insect and nectar feeders. So you are keen to help them, are you not? Put 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. Usually, it is hung from a tree branch. This feeder accommodates smaller birds such as finches, white eyes, bulbuls, and even Robins. They can land on it and feed. Pigeons, 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 you can place bread, seed, fruit, suet, and mealworms. They often have spikes. You can anchor fruit on the spikes for fruit-eating birds. Place these bird feeders on top of a sturdy pole. Alternatively, hang them from a tree branch to protect them from cats.
BIRDS FEEL SAFE ON A SIMPLE HANGING BIRD-FEEDING TABLE WITH FRUIT THAT CATS CAN’T CLIMB UP.
HOW DO YOU ATTRACT SUNBIRDS AND OTHER NECTAR FEEDERS TO YOUR GARDEN?
Colouring the feeder a bright red will 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. Indeed, this will attract a whole host of birds. Honey and brown sugar mixes tend to attract ants. Therefore, it is better to avoid using it.
WHICH PLANTS WILL ATTRACT NECTAR-FEEDING BIRDS?
Garden birds are drawn to flower nectar and the sugary running sap of trees. Sugar water can also be offered in feeders to birds as a sweet treat. Ideally, planting various indigenous plants that attract and feed our garden birds would be best. 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. Therefore, you should go for these colours in your garden. Aloes, Watsonias, Wild Dagga (Leonotis spp.), Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia spp.). Cotyledons and other succulents. Wachendorfias, Lachenalia, and Tecoma will attract nectar-feeding birds such as the sunbird.
A point often overlooked is the fact that your flowering plants need nutrients to produce more flowers. Should your soil lack nutrients, it is advisable that you add compost. We recommend that you consider making your own compost. Apart from saving money, there are numerous other benefits linked to making your own compost. Luckily for you, we have written a blog that explains how to make compost at home. Moreover, we mention all the benefits of making compost instead of buying it. Furthermore, we also link to the Western Cape government’s website, where they explain how Capetonians can get a free compost bin!
ARE SUNBIRDS THE SAME AS HUMMINGBIRDS?
There is a resemblance between hummingbirds and sunbirds. Both are small, often colourful, and feed primarily on nectar. Since they feed mainly on nectar, they are known as Nectarivores. Sunbirds and hummingbirds are ecological equivalents. Surprisingly, they are unrelated. Sunbirds are found in Africa and Asia, whereas hummingbirds are from the Americas. One significant difference is that sunbirds do not hover like North American hummingbirds.
SOME INTERESTING SUNBIRD FACTS
There are 21 species of sunbirds found locally. These include, amongst others, the white-bellied sunbird collared sunbird, the Marico sunbird, and the amethyst sunbird. Sunbirds are songbirds. They often become territorial and will defend a food source as their own. Furthermore, food availability often limits the number of sunbirds in a specific area.
WHICH PLANTS WILL ATTRACT SEED-EATING BIRDS?
The seed heads of grasses and grains like Restios, Aristida, Pennisetum and other smaller sedges attract seed-eating birds. Seed eaters also love the common ordinary daisies such as Euryops, Dimorpotheca, Gazanias, and Arctotis. Leave the dried-out dead heads for as long as possible. This will give the birds time to take most of the seed at the end of summer.
The Cape Weaver, Canaries, Cape Bunting, Finches, Doves, and sparrows are seed-eating garden birds in South Africa.
HOW DO YOU ATTRACT FRUIT-EATING BIRDS TO YOUR GARDEN?
Fresh grapes, bananas, cherries, and berries may all be taken by orioles, robins, Cape May Warblers, and other birds with sweet beaks. Do you wish to attract fruit-eating birds, such as the Loeries, plant fruit-producing plants? Then try the tree fuchsia (Halleria Lucida), Assegaai (Curtisia dentata), Dune crow-berry (Rhus crenata), or white stinkwood (Celtis Africana). Once again, we need to stress the fact that your fruit-bearing plants need nutrients, so remember to add compost to your soil!
HOW DO YOU ATTRACT INSECT-EATING BIRDS TO YOUR GARDEN?
Some insect-eating birds in South Africa are Flycatchers, Chats, Barbets, Thrushes, Robins, Warblers, Shrikes, Woodpeckers, White-eyes, and Hoopoes. We have already mentioned that you can attract insect-eating garden birds by putting mealworms on a platform. Unfortunately, this means that you will constantly need to purchase mealworms.
Of course, we have the perfect solution for you should you seek a cheaper alternative. Instead of buying mealworms, you can rely on nature to help you. Fallen leaves, mulch, and compost create the perfect micro-habitat for insects and worms. So instead of picking up dead leaves, you should leave them on top of the soil in your beds. As a matter of fact, this will result in your garden attracting insects, which will, in turn, attract insect-eating birds.
Of course, instead of relying only on fallen leaves, you can also add mulch and compost to your garden beds. If you have not yet started making your own compost at home, we suggest you check out our blog on compost to find out how easy it is!
WATER AND NESTING SITES FOR GARDEN BIRDS
Birds need access to clean and fresh water regularly and must bathe and drink daily. These are also very important to encourage birds to your garden. Put out a shallow bird bath which allows them to go in without the need to swim safely. Such a bird bath 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 away should they feel vulnerable.
Bird baths come in various shapes and sizes. Most importantly, it would be best to anchor it securely so it will not topple over. Nesting sites for birds are best found in thick creeper-like foliage, bushy shrubs, and trees. Moreover, garden birds can hide from overhead predators in this nesting environment. The smaller birds will be safe from crows, raptors, and other birds that prey on them. Grasses, including reeds and bulrushes, are valuable suppliers of nesting material to weavers who suspend their nests from trees.
BIRDS IN YOUR GARDEN CAN PROVIDE ENDLESS JOY FOR YOUR FAMILY
Encourage your kids to learn the names of your garden birds. Moreover, you should involve your children and make your bird feeders. A splendid idea will be to hang the homemade feeders near their bedroom windows. This will result in you seeing all the magnificent garden birds close up! A fun activity can be researching the information you don’t know about them. Your research can include what they like to eat and where they prefer to nest.
In conclusion, Cape Contours Landscaping hopes you will attract many birds to your garden. Your garden birds will reward you with their splendid beauty and the heartwarming joy they bring to the whole family.