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Five Healthy Ways to Attract Wild Birds to Your Backyard

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by Meg Forbes (subscribe)
Meg Forbes is a mum, freelance writer, and photographer living in the Redlands, South of Brisbane. https://www.instagram.com/megforbesphotography/
Published March 4th 2020
Attract birds to your backyard naturally
People right around the world delight in the wild birds that visit their gardens. This is especially true in Australia where we are blessed with a wide variety of beautiful and intelligent birds.

A male superb fairy wren enjoying the safety of a small tree
A male superb fairy wren enjoying the safety of a small tree


This includes wild parrots such as rainbow lorikeets, a variety of cockatoos, and Australian magpies who often divide people into those who love them, or those who fear them.

A wild Australian magpie
A wild Australian magpie


1. Provide clean water in a safe location

One of the easiest, and healthiest, ways you can attract wild birds to your backyard is by providing a clean supply of water each day. Birds often prefer water that is elevated, such as that in birdbaths, with a tree or a fence nearby so that they are able to escape from predators if necessary.

A grey butcherbird with clean water from a bird bath running down its beak
A juvenile grey butcherbird with clean water from a bird bath running down its beak


2. Native plants

While feeding wild birds processed foods such as bread is hazardous for their health, providing native plants is certain to attract a wide variety of wild birds. Flowering trees attract wild birds and provide safe, elevated places for them to rest.

A brown honeyeater feeding
A brown honeyeater feeding


Grevilleas are a popular flowering plant, especially amongst honeyeaters. Banksias are an especially good choice for attracting birds since they have an abundance of nectar and attract insects. Insects attract birds such as fairy-wrens, as well as lizards that in turn will attract larger birds such as laughing kookaburras.

A wild laughing kookaburra with a delicious insect for breakfast
A wild laughing kookaburra with a delicious insect for breakfast


3. Install shelters and platforms for sitting on

Installing shelters such as nest boxes, or allowing trees with natural hollows to remain, is another great way to attract birds to your backyard. Many Australian birds require safe hollows for nesting, however, unlike birds such as woodpeckers on other continents Australian birds don't create their own hollows.

Wild rainbow lorikeets at their nest hollow
Wild rainbow lorikeets at their nest hollow


If your backyard doesn't have trees or natural platforms, another way of attracting birds is to supply safe places for them to perch. These can be constructed of almost any material.

A rainbow lorikeet grooming its fledgling on an artificial platform
A rainbow lorikeet grooming its fledgling on an artificial platform


4. Keep everything scrupulously clean

When supplying water in birdbaths, and if you decide to feed birds foods such as seeds or fruits, it is essential that platforms and containers be kept scrupulously clean. Beak and feather disease is a devastating disease that affects sulphur-crested cockatoos especially, although other birds can be infected as well. If you spot a bird with beak and feather disease it is best to call your local wildlife rescue service to prevent the disease from spreading to other birds in the area.

A pale headed rosella showing early signs of beak and feather disease
A pale headed rosella showing early signs of beak and feather disease


5. Keep cats indoors

Lastly, one of the best ways to help our native birds flourish is to keep cats indoors. As much as we all love our cats, a study undertaken through Charles Darwin University, the Australian National University, and Deakin University in 2017 estimated that cats kill more than 1 million birds in Australia every day. Although many of the cats responsible were feral rather than pets, keeping pet cats indoors and having a bell on their collar is especially important when actively attracting birds to your backyard.

A wild sulphur crested cockatoo overseeing backyard activities
A wild sulphur crested cockatoo overseeing backyard activities


By following these guidelines, and keeping your backyard as natural as possible, bird lovers greatly increase their chances to enjoy watching the natural behaviour of birds right in their backyards every day.

A pale headed rosella enjoying seeds from an unmown lawn
A pale headed rosella enjoying seeds from an unmown lawn


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Why? Beautiful birds brighten everyone's day!
Your Comment
I enjoyed your photos Meg. I too like to take pictures of the birds in my backyard and area.
by May Cross (score: 3|6978) 158 days ago
Beautiful photos Meg. And a very informative and interesting article. It is a pleasure to watch our birds going about their daily feeding activities. Neil.
by Neil Follett (score: 2|595) 162 days ago
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