Birdscaping - Landscaping for birds

Southern Africa boasts some of the world's most beautiful bird species. As the country's avid bird watchers gear up for Birding Big Day on 30 November, how can you birdscape your landscape to attract feathered guests ?

Encouraging birds to visit your garden is easy if you create the right environment for them. Birds have simple needs – they require shelter, water and food. If you are able to supply these, they'll definitely visit and may even choose to settle in your landscape.

Landscaping for birds requires knowledge of nesting, resting, feeding and breeding. Pic: Gill Eva.


Birdscaping:  How to attract birds to your landscape?

* Feed the birds

Use a bird feeder for pieces of suet, fruit, bread or bird seed, but remember to feed at irregular intervals or birds may become too dependent on your tray. 

Thatch green bird feeder
Wild bird seed feeder
Compact hanging suet cage


Culterra supply a range of hanging bird feeders and seed trays, as well as the food for feeders which range from wild seed bells to a range of suet for birds.

Suet is especially loved by sparrows, weavers, hoopoe's, barbets and starlings. 

Traditionally, suet was defined as the hard fat around the kidneys and loins in beef and mutton. However, in terms of bird suet, it is more likely to refer to any fats mixed with a variety of ingredients.

Local suet balls or blocks are made from fats mixed with corn meal, peanuts, fruits, or even dried insects. 

Suet is easily digested and metabolized by birds and is regarded as a high-energy food. Peanut butter suet is possibly the most popular suet fed locally to birds. 

High protein insect suet
Peanut butter suet ball
Chilli suet for barbets


* Water for birds

A water source welcomes the birds. Include a bird bath in a sheltered spot under trees. Shallow stone bird baths can be used in rock gardens and also provide a place for the birds to bathe. 

A pedestal birdbath, available in a range of different sizes, is preferable if you have cats or neighbourhood felines visit your garden.

Designing shallow water features into your landscape is the best way to naturally encourage birds into your landscape. Design a pond with a sloping pebble or sand beach so waders can make their way into the water. 


Suet block feeder for birds
Suet with pine cones
Suet balls for birds

Plants for birdscaping
In addition to wild seed, suet and water, birdscape your landscape by planting a selection of food plants that cater to the needs of a variety of bird species.

-  Insect eaters
Birds that eat insects include fly-catches, shrikes, bee-eaters and the popular Cape robin-chat. Plant flowering trees and shrubs attract insects, which in turn attracts insectivorous birds.

Choose from any of the indigenous acacias, the coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon), tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), weeping boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala), buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata), wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia), Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) and the wild honeysuckle (Turraea floribunda).

Aloes are especially important as they flower during the winter when there are few other resources for insects.


Refill for wild bird seed bell
Wild bird seed bell feeder
Peanut butter suet for birds


-  Seed eaters
Local birds that eat seeds include waxbills, finches, fire finches, canaries, doves, sparrows and bronze mannikins.  Plant a variety of grasses and allow them to grow tall enough to set seed. 

Grasses species to consider: bristle-leaved red-top grass (Melinis nerviglumis), small panicum (Panicum ecklonii), Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) and common reed (Phragmites australis).

-  Fruit eaters
Frugivorous birds include bulbuls, turacos, barbets, grey loeries and some species of mousebirds, parrots and starlings.

Plant indigenous fig frees, tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), Transvaal red milkwood (Mimusops zeyheri) and the sour plum (Harpephyllum caffrum).

-  Nectar eaters
Sunbirds and sugarbirds love nectar. 

Good nectar-producing plant species include the coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon), Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), red-hot pokers (Kniphofia praecox), proteas, pincushions, aloes and tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida).

Indigenous weeping boerbean (Schotia brachypetala​)
Indigenous pompon tree (Dais cotinifolia​​)
Indigenous camphor bush (Tarchonanthus camphoratus​)​


Contact Culterra on 086 128 5837 or www.culterra.co.za
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