Botany

Native Australian Plants which Provide Birds with Shelter Nesting Sites and Nesting Material



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To attract birds to a garden, they need food, water and shelter. An added bonus would be ready availability of nesting sites and materials. The following Australian natives all provide shelter, nesting sites and/or nesting materials.

Native to Western Australia is the Acacia inophloia or Fibre-barked Wattle. This is an upright shrub with brown, string-like bark. This fibrous bark provides excellent nesting material for a number of bird species. Yellow flowers are produced from September to November. It does best in a warm, well-drained position.

Grevillea asparagoides is another native of Western Australia and grows to 5 metres. It is a much-branched shrub with leaves divided into stiff, narrow segments. Bright red flowers appear mainly from August to November. It likes warm, well-drained situations. This grevillea species provides protection and nesting sites for small birds while the flowers supply nectar.

The above two species are moderately resistant to frost. The following species are not affected by frost.

Another popular nesting plant is Banksia spinulosa (Hairpin Banksia) which grows to 6 metres while the dwarf form reaches 1 to 2 metres. The serrated leaves grow up to 8cm long. It flowers from March to August, with yellow or amber flowers having black or red styles. It prefers well-drained, acid soils.

Coprosma quadrifida or Prickly Currant Bush is a small twiggy shrub with prickly foliage. Very small, greenish flowers are borne from September to November followed by oval, edible, bright red, fleshy fruits of around 0.5 to 0.8cm long. It grows well in a cool, moist position. The prickly foliage provides protection for small birds and the berries are eaten by several species.

Dryandra sessilis or Parrot Bush is endemic to Western Australia. The leaves grow to 5cm long and have scattered, prickly lobes. Pale yellow flower heads are produced from July to November. The Parrot Bush adapts to a fairly wide range of well-drained locations. The flowers provide food for native birds and the bush is also popular as a nesting plant.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis or Red River Gum is a large tree with a thick trunk of 1-2m diameter. The bark can be highly decorative. White to cream flowers are produced sporadically. It tolerates wet and drought conditions. It is highly regarded as a durable timber, suitable for use as posts, stumps and railway sleepers. In time, it develops highly sought after nesting holes in the trunk and branches.

Gahnia sieberiana or Red-fruit Saw-Sedge is large and clump forming. The narrow leaves are 1-2cm long and have sharp margins. The brown and cream flowers are followed by small, red, shiny nuts. It is a hardy plant, particularly suited to moist, sunny conditions. All of the Gahnias provide nesting sites for small birds.

Grevillea ‘Pink Pearl’ is a cultivar and a vigorous shrub with short, narrow, pointed leaves. Clusters of bright pink flowers are produced throughout most of the year peaking from July to October. It responds well to pruning and provides protection and nesting sites for small birds.

Lambertia formosa, also known as Mountain Devil is endemic to New South Wales and grows to 2 metres. It has dark green, pointed leaves and orange-red to bright red tubular flowers throughout year peaking from February to April. The flowers contain a good supply of nectar for honey-eating birds. The rigid foliage also provides excellent nesting sites.

Your garden birds will love any of these species and maybe even reward your consideration for them by nesting in your garden.

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