All about the birds and the bees

By Shepparton News

Create a haven for birds and bees in your garden and not only will you be rewarded with the excitement of nature, but likely an overall improvement in the health of your tranquil space.

Native birds, such as fairy wrens, prey on small insects, flies and aphids and honeyeaters, along with bees, are attracted to pollen, and have an important role to play in pollinating plants.

Scott Wise from Rochester Nursery said bees were probably our most important insect as they were the main source for pollinating plants, including fruit and vegetables.

“Fun fact, one in three mouthfuls of food we put in our mouths are pollinated by bees,” Scott said.

Lavender, rosemary, grevillea, Brachyscome, Erigeron, thyme, sage and tea tree are among the bees’ favourite fare and care should be taken to avoid insecticides that are labelled as highly toxic to bees.

“If you do need to spray insecticide, avoid spraying while the plants are flowering and try using organic sprays instead,” Scott said.

He said the trick to luring a variety of birds was to choose a mix of plants that provide a vertical structure, from ground covers through to shrubs and large trees, if space allows.

Different plants provide food, shelter or nesting opportunities and account for the appetites of various species, such as the nectar and seed-eating rosellas and parrots, insect-devouring fairy wrens or nectar-loving honeyeaters.

During the planning stage, Scott said to consider the suitability of the plant for your garden, taking into account the soil type and site position, and look around to see what plants are indigenous to the area.

Planting ideas

Longer flowering native plants such as emu bush (Eremophila) and grevillea varieties range in size from ground covers to large shrubs and are favoured by nectar-eating birds.

Bottlebrush (Callistemon) provides habitat for nesting, as well as nectar and seeds for food.

Eucalyptus varieties are a great resource for our native birds, supplying nectar, seeds and shelter.

Native grasses are used for nesting material. Depending on space, group plants in clumps of three to five of the same type or similar species, so there is enough of that particular resource, such as seed heads, to encourage the birds to come for a visit.

Kangaroo paw and banksia also attract nectar-loving birds.