Native Plants to attract birds

Your home garden can help to provide shelter, food and nesting places for native birds in the city. Any garden can be made more attractive to wildlife, even if it is only a few square metres in size. Here are some simple ideas :

  • Grow native trees and shrubs that provide nectar, seeds or berries
  • Select the native plants you grow so that food is available all year
  • Provide diverse habitats by grouping plants in mixed communities
  • Grow together plants which vary in height
  • A thick layer of humus will attract insects for birds to feed on
  • A “wild” area that is seldom disturbed will provide nesting sites

Local trees to attract birds and other wildlife and which all occur naturally in Auckland include:

  • Alectryon excelsus Titoki Fruit late summer 10m shiny compound leaves good for pigeons
  • Alseuosmia macrophylla Toropapa/karapapa Fruit autumn 1-2m slender shrub richly-scented flowers
  • Aristotelia serrata Makomako/ wineberry Fruit autumn 10m fast-growing graceful spreading tree, numerous currant-like berries in autumn
  • Beilschmiedia tarairi Taraire Fruit autumn 22m slow-growing forest tree good for pigeons
  • Beilschmiedia tawa Tawa Fruit autumn 25m graceful forest tree willow-like leaves black drupes slow-growing good for pigeons
  • Carpodetus serratus Putaputaweta/marble leaf Fruit autumn 10m spreading open tree
  • Coprosma grandifolia* Kanono Fruit autumn To 6m open tree large leaves
  • Coprosma lucida*
  • Karamu Fruit late summer early autumn 3-6m hardy shrub
  • Coprosma robusta* Karamu Fruit autumn 3-6m common hardy shrub
  • Cordyline australis Ti kouka/cabbage tree Fruit late summer-early autumn 12m slender trunk long strap leaves in tufts at branch ends bluish white berries
  • Corynocarpus laevigatus Karaka Fruit late summer-early autumn 15m dense tree large glossy leaves orange berries good for pigeons
  • Dacrycarpus dacrydioides Kahikatea/white pine Fruit autumn 50m tallest and most ancient native tree fine specimen for large gardens especially wet areas sporadic fruiting
  • Dacrydium cupressinum Rimu/red pine Fruit autumn 60m+ tall forest tree juvenile has hanging foliage and conical shape sporadic fruiting
  • Eleocarpus dentata Hinua Fruit late summer-early autumn 15m round-headed tree clusters of white flowers in spring
  • Fuchsia excorticata* Kotukutuku/tree fuchsia Nectar early summer. Berries summer-autumn 12m decidous small tree red papery bark purple and red flowers through summer black berries
  • Hedycarya aborea* Porokaiwhiri/pigeon wood Fruit autumn 12m tree with cream flowers Sept-Dec and orange drupes on female trees only prefers damp good for pigeons
  • Hoheria populnea Houhere/lacebark Nectar late summer 12m fast-growing tree white flowers late summer
  • Knightia excelsa Rewarewa/NZ honeysuckle Nectar Oct-Dec 30m tall narrow tree unusual red flowers
  • Macropiper excelsum* Kawakawa Fruit late summer To 6m shrub heart-shaped leaves orange fruit good for pigeons
  • Melicope ternate Wharangi Seeds late summer 7m round-headed tree shining three-part leaves
  • Melicytus ramiflorus* Mahoe/whitey wood. Fruit late summer 10m very common small tree
  • Metrosideros excelsa Pohutukawa/NZ Christmas tree Nectar Dec-Jan 20m large spreading dense tree red flowers in summer very hardy and wind tolerant
  • Metrosideros fulgens Climbing rata Nectar winter Climber scarlet/orange flowers in winter
  • Metrosideros perforate Aketea/small leaved white rata Nectar late winter Usually a climber but can be grown as a small shrub in open white flowers
  • Metrosideros robusta Rata/northern rata Nectar Nov-Dec 30m tall forest tree red flowers
  • Myrsine australis Mapou Fruit autumn 6m bushy shrub red-tinged leaves and stems
  • Passiflora tetrandra Kohia/NZ passion flower Fruit summer-autumn Slender climber fragrant greenish-whiote flowers Nov-Dec orange fruit
  • Phormium tenax Harakeke/flax Nectar Nov-Jan 3m vigorous plant forming large clumps long strap leaves
  • Pittosporum crassifolium Karo Nectar spring 9m hardy shrub/tree
  • Pittosporum eugenoides* Tarata/lemonwood Nectar spring. Fruit autumn 12m tree glossy leaves & small scented flowers
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium Kohuhu Nectar spring To 8m sweet scented flowers often used as hedging
  • Podocarpus totara* Totara Fruit autumn 30m+ forest tree hardy in open sporadic fruiting
  • Pomamderris kumaraho Kumarahou/golden tainui Nectar spring 3m open shrub golden flowers in Sept-Nov
  • Prumnopitys ferruginea Miro Fruit autumn 25m forest tree yew-like leaves can be trimmed for hedging favoured food of pigeons
  • Pseudopanax aboreus* Whauwhaupaku/five finger Fruit extended season. Nectar winter To 8m much-branched shrub large leathery compound leaves
  • Pseudopanax crassifolius Horoeka/lancewood Fruit extended season 15m slender juvenile form round-headed adult tree
  • Pseudopanax lesonii Houpara Fruit extended season 6m hardy shrub/small tree many hybrid garden forms available
  • Rhabdothamnus solandri Taurepo/NZ gloxinia Nectar extended season .6-1.5m twiggy shrub orange bell flowers all year
  • Rhopalostylis sapida Nikau Fruit 10m palm
  • Schefflera digitata* pate Fruit autumn 8m spreading shrub/tree large soft compound leaves prefers damp
  • Solanum aviculare Poroporo Fruit autumn-winter 3m leafy shrub purple flowers to 4cm orange berries fast growing popular with silvereyes
  • Sophora micophylla Kowhai Nectar early spring 10m wiry juvenile form open tree as adult yellow flowers important nectar source
  • Vitex lucens Puriri Nectar and fruit all year 20m massive spreading tree pink flowers and ornge berries all year good for pigeons

* = species for which several individuals may need to be planted to ensure fruiting

Don’t feel that to attract wildlife and give them somewhere to eat and rest and breed that you have to plant an entire forest in your own garden.
If you only plant a few of these plants, and your neighbour has another few, and their neighbour some more, then collectively this creates a network of plants which birds can travel from one area to another and get food.
This is the idea behind the creation throughout the city of wildlinks which birds can travel along.


A real issue in Auckland for native plantings is to do with weed control. There is quite a bit of inforamtion available about weeds, but we like this site.