Strictly for the Birds
Native birds in your area and how to encourage them into your patch. An Open Day at the Southland Community Nursery in Otatara at the weekend proved a great success with over 50 people attending in just 2 hours. The open afternoon was a joint affair with Russel and May Evans “Bush Haven” - where people got to look at the range of injured native birds that are being cared for. The Community Nursery is a voluntary native plant project run by Chris and Brian Rance where people can come to the nursery on Fridays, help with potting plants or weeding and in exchange take away some native plants for their own projects, for free.
The theme for this years open afternoon was to encourage people to grow the local native plants that will attract tui, bellbirds, native pigeons and other birds to their properties. The native fuchsia - Fuchsia excorticata - is one of the main local native trees that is excellent for attracting the nectar feeding birds tui and bellbird for long periods of the year. Although not as large flowered as some of the exotic fuchsia’s they have abundant flowers that are available for most of the growing season - they also produce large fruit which those birds and pigeon and waxeyes really love. A list of other native plants good for attracting native birds is available from the nursery. Attendees also enjoyed walking the gravelled track around the Rance’s ponds and restoration area where a wet sheep paddock has been transformed into a thriving native landscape. A a good range of bush birds are attracted to the area as well as waterfowl, kingfishers, white faced herons and even the rare fernbird. Many native plants are in full flower at the moment so birds are abundant around the property.
Other important aspects to the open afternoon were advice on pest plants with Environment Southlands Randall Milne giving out the popular Southland “Plant Me Instead” guide - a free booklet which profiles some of the weeds people may have in their gardens and recommends some good species to replace them with. Also, pest trapping advice was available from Environment Southland’s Sherman Smith who is available to help landowners who want to protect and enhance bird populations in their area by controlling stoats, weasels, rats and possums. All of these animals are known to eat bird chicks and eggs on their nests as well as killing adult birds. Information is available from Environment Southland or the Community Nursery.