Nelson Leader : January 23rd 2014
28 THE NELSON LEADER, JANUARY 23, 2014 GARDENING/PUZZLES Count on a garden to pull the birds T By STEPHEN MCCARTHY his summer we have had the dubious pleasure of having a pair of weka turn up in the garden. The pleasure is indeed dubious as we noticed our young broccoli and cabbage plants have been ripped to bits by something quite large, and think our two new visitors are the culprits. We have covered the plants with bird netting so hopefully that will be the end of it. I must admit it is pleasurable to have plenty of birds in the garden as they add yet another dimension. Who could not be amused by the antics of tui as they feed on flax flowers and chase all the other birds off? Sometimes we get rarer species visiting, such as falcons, tomtits and once, even a solitary robin. We live in the country in the Motueka valley but by providing the right environment and food sources it is amazing just how far native birds can be lured right into suburbia from local havens such as the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. Virtually any sort of a garden will attract birds – a bare site offers them little attraction, but add the right trees and shrubs and you will have provided them with a place to nest, roost and forage for food. Winter can be a tough time for birds as there is not as many species of plants flowering at that time for nectar feeders. Our early-flowering camellias specimens. Many Prunus species, especially P. campanulata and its hybrids, are very popular with the local tui and bellbird population. Certain fruits are popular with the birds as they often are ripe in late autumn when other food sources have dwindled. By planting appropriate trees you can attract birds into the garden at this time of year – Prunus species, crab apples (Malus spp.), rowan, shad bush (Amelanchier spp.) and himalayan (Benthamina). The fruits of native species such as wineberry, karamu and korokia are bird favourites. The young leaves of many Prunus species are also very popular with kereru, as are the new shoots of tree lucerne (Tagastache) and kowhai which are sometimes stripped almost bare. Pigeons also like the fruit of the Where’s lunch? This year’s young grey ducks wait for a handout. are very much appreciated by the local tui and bellbird population, as are the winter flowering kniphofia, or red hot pokers. At this time of the year birds will appreciate some food put out for them on a feeding table or a sugar or honey syrup in a container hung up in a tree. The siting of a feeding station is important – it needs to be placed high enough and away from a point where a cat can ambush the feeding birds. A feeding table just outside a window provides a lot of enter- tainment, especially for folks who are ill or not able to get around as they used to. In the drier, hot summer months water is also a good bird attractant – a wide shallow bird bath (also sited out of cat reach) will be regularly used. Water in the form of a large pond will also attract birds such as kingfishers, ducks, and herons – lured in by an easy meal of tadpoles or goldfish. This year we have four young grey ducks which come up to the house from the ponds for their daily handout. CROSSWORD YOUR STARS TOP 10 THE TOP 10 1. On 30 September 1962, who took office as New Zealand’s first Ombudsman? 2. Who ate Turkey Lurkey? 3. The musicals West Side Story and Kiss me Kate were based on whose plays? 4. In golf, where would you find a links course? 5. What is the lake behind the Aswan High Dam called? 6. Who wrote the novel Living in the Maniototo? 7. Who had a mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden? 8. Who played Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars? 9. And who were her famous parents? 10. What is the name of the long Northland bay on the east coast opposite Ninety Mile Beach? SUDOKU Many garden plants provide nectar for birds – the more common ones being flaxes, fuchsia, lemonwood, kowhai, kniphofia, grevillea, camellia, chilean fire bush or embothrium, flowering gums and some rhododendrons. The latter are said to have been responsible for the death of tui which have been reported dead under shrubs. We often have tui feeding on the nectar of some rhododendrons in our garden and we have never seen any corpses under our native cabbage tree Cordyline australis. Keeping down the numbers of bird predators can be done by poisoning and trapping rats, stoats, weasels, ferrets and feral cats. All of these prey on birds, their eggs and young, and a reduction of their numbers will greatly assist in boosting the local bird population. There is a DOC site on the internet, Calendar of Plants for Native Birds, and a Forest and Bird site Native Plants to Attract Birds both of which tell you which native plants to establish in order to attract birds. strawberry NZ CROSSWORD 1. Sir Guy Powles, 2. Foxy Loxy, 3. William Shakespeare, 4. Near the sea, 5. Lake Nasser, 6. Janet Frame, 7. Adolf Hitler, 8. Carrie Fisher, 9. Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, 10. Great Exhibition Bay.
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