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Native plants and shrubs are the best way to attract native birds to your garden. 

They can provide shelter, food, and nesting places in your backyard. Any garden can be made more attractive to wildlife, even if it is only small.

Some things to consider when planting native trees and shrubs to attract native birds include:

  • Grow native trees and shrubs that provide nectar, seeds, or berries.
  • Choose a range of native plants so your garden provides food all-year-round.
  • Group plants in mixed communities to provide diverse habitats.
  • Grow plants that vary in height.
  • Allow leaf litter to accumulate to attract insects for birds to feed on.
  • Create a "wild" area that is not disturbed often for birds to use for nesting.

Keeping birds safe

Before you start feeding native birds, it is important to make sure your backyard is a safe place for them to visit.

  • Set traps to control introduced predators like rats, stoats, and possums.
  • Keep your cat inside, particularly at night.
  • Put any feed stations well out of reach of introduced predators.
  • Clean your feeder regularly to avoid the spread of disease.
  • Provide water, particularly in summer, so birds are able to stay hydrated.

What do native birds eat?

Native birds that you are likely to attract to your garden prefer to eat fruit, nectar, insects, and foliage. Common species and their preferred food are:

Species Nectar Fruit Foliage Insects
Kererū (wood pigeon)    
Korimako (bellbird)  
Kōtare (kingfisher)      
Pīwakawaka (fantail)      
Riroriro (grey warbler)      
Tauhou (silvereye)  

Bird-friendly plants 

Whenever you are planting natives, make sure they are eco-sourced. This means they occur naturally in your area, or seeds have been taken from a local variation.

Scientific name Common name Food provided
Alectryon excelsus Tītoki Fruit and seeds
Alseuosmia macrophylla Toropapa or karapapa Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Aristotelia serrata Makomako (wineberry) Fruit and seeds
Beilschmiedia tarairi Taraire Fruit and seeds
Beilschmiedia tawa Tawa Fruit and seeds
Carpodetus serratus Putaputawētā (marbleleaf) Fruit and seeds
Coprosma grandifolia* Kanono or raurēkau Fruit and seeds

Coprosma lucida*

Shiny karamū Fruit and seeds
Coprosma robusta* Karamū Fruit and seeds
Cordyline australis Tī kōuka (cabbage tree) Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Corynocarpus laevigatus* Karaka Fruit and seeds
Dacrycarpus dacrydioides Kahikatea (white pine) Fruit and seeds
Dacrydium cupressinum* Rimu (red pine) Fruit and seeds
Eleocarpus dentata Hīnau Fruit and seeds
Fuchsia excorticata*  Kōtukutuku (tree fuschia) Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Hedycarya aborea* Porokaiwhiri (pigeonwood) Fruit and seeds
Hoheria populnea Houhere (lacebark) Nectar
Knightia excelsa Rewarewa (New Zealand honeysuckle) Nectar
Macropiper excelsum Kawakawa Fruit and seeds
Melicope ternate Whārangi Fruit and seeds
Melicytus ramiflorus* Māhoe (whitey wood) Fruit and seeds
Metrosideros excelsa Pōhutukawa Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Metrosideros fulgens Akatea (climbing rātā) Nectar
Metrosideros perforata Akatea or akatorotoro (white climbing rātā) Nectar
Metrosideros robusta Northern rātā Nectar
Myrsine australis Māpou Fruit and seeds
Passiflora tetrandra Kohia (New Zealand passion flower) Fruit
Phormium tenax  Harakeke (flax) Nectar
Pittosporum crassifolium Karo, kaikaro, or kīhihi Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Pittosporum eugenoides* Tarata (lemonwood) Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Pittosporum tenuifolium Kōhūhū, kohukohu, tawhiwhi Nectar, fruit, and seeds
Podocarpus totara* Tōtara Fruit and seeds
Pomamderris kumaraho Kūmarahou Nectar
Prumnopitys ferruginea Miro Fruit and seeds
Pseudopanax aboreus* Puahou or whauwhaupaku (five finger) Fruit and seeds
Pseudopanax crassifolius Horoeka (lancewood) Fruit and seeds
Pseudopanax lesonii Houpara Fruit and seeds
Rhabdothamnus solandri  Taurepo, matata or waiuatua Nectar
Rhopalostylis sapida Nīkau Fruit and seeds
Schefflera digitata* Patē (seven finger) Fruit and seeds
Solanum aviculare Poroporo Fruit and seeds
Sophora micophylla Kōwhai Nectar
Vitex lucens Puriri Nectar, fruit, and seeds

* Species for which several individuals may need to be planted to ensure fruiting.

This guide was originally created by Forest & Bird's Central Auckland Branch.

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