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Senior Landscape Designer LLoyd Atherfold discusses the brilliance of birds in your backyard.

The idea of bird watching conjures up images of big binoculours, small notebooks, and wide brimmed hats. However you don’t have to be David Attenborough to appreciate the truly spectular native birds New Zealand has been blessed with, especially when they’re right on our back doorstep.


I am fortunate enough to be visited by a Tui who is rather fond of the flowering tree beside my porch. Its song transforms my garden into a theatre of visual and audio delight, and I would like to encourage ‘my Tui’ to keep visiting. In fact, building a bird friendly garden is a priority of mine, my kids love spotting an interesting bird or hearing birdsong and then discovering the bird that the song belongs to, it’s a fun game.

More than just personal enjoyment, biodiversity is an intergal part of a healthy ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem is a source of food, building materials, energy and medicines and provides for pollination, waste assimilation and water filtration. Birds are part of this diversity and are part of our day to day living.

Unfortunately, our bird numbers are in decline, and this is an indicator of a more serious decline in our biodiversity. Birds rely on the smorgasboard of sugars that flowers and fruit provide, and if that declines, so do they.

Planting trees and shrubs for all round feeding is the key. There are many natives that provide bird sustenance for all of New Zealand’s environments. Many natives cross over into the textural realm and suit an Auckland subtropical climate. Nikau and flax, some of our best known, are just a couple of the many. One exotic that produce masses of vibrant colour, which I am fond of are the Aloes varieties. Selected Aloes flower in the winter and do well in Auckland.

– LLoyd Atherfold

Natural Habitats 

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