Backyard Buddies
Small Birds

Photo: David Cook

Small Birds

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Small birds are fantastic to have in your garden as they help pollinate, disperse seeds, control insect numbers and recycle nutrients. A garden with small birds visiting it is a healthy garden.

Small birds need a layered garden that has different types of plants such as trees, shrubs, grasses, groundcover and leaf litter.

In the middle of your space, plant soft shrubs about 1-2 m high to provide a safe haven from bigger birds. They love this even more if it is surrounded by spiky, protective shrubs 1-2m high, planted about a hand distance away.

Next add small shrubs for food and shelter, and finally plant mixed native grasses and ground cover so that there are plenty of seeds and insects for small birds to eat.

Attract Small Birds to Your Garden

Small native birds are lovely, vibrantly coloured and patterned visitors that are a delight to see in your very own backyard.

By planting a range of native plants of different heights and densities in your garden, you will encourage many different small birds. You could see Finches, Silvereyes, Wrens, Robins, Wagtails, Pardalotes and small Honeyeaters visiting your patch.

If small birds have somewhere to hide, a bit of water, feel safe from predators and can find food in your garden, they will visit again and again.

You can make your neighbourhood friendlier for small birds

Small birds need food and shelter, so fill whatever space you can with native plants.

Finches such as the Red-browed finch, the Double-barred finch, the Chestnut breasted manikin all love shrubs and trees for perching, nesting, foraging and hiding from predators such as cats and bigger birds. Wattles, Forest Oaks and Tea Trees are all great choices.

Plant native grasses next to dense shrubs. Finches eat the seeds from mature native grasses such as Wallaby Grass, Red Fruited Saw Sedge, Tussock Grass, Kangaroo Grass, Wiry Panic, Basket Grass, Wire Grass, Plumegrass, Hedgehog Grass and Weeping Grass.

Silvereyes are small fruit-eating birds. Figs, Lillipillies, Blueberry Ash and Walking stick Palm provide them with shelter and protection.

Our gardens and parks can be safe places for small birds and will provide them with the food they need.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies – to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. Small birds are backyard buddies.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like small birds, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what small birds do and do not like.

Small birds love:

Native grasses – which provide seeds for them to eat.

Dense native shrubs – that give them somewhere to hide from predators, and provide fruits or flowers.

Clean water – in a bird bath, water feature or even a small container for them to drink and bathe in.

Tall trees – to build their nests in.

Insects – which they eat or catch and feed to their young.

But they don’t like:

Cats and dogs – which can frighten or attack them if allowed to roam free, particularly at night.

Wide open spaces with few plant types – in which bigger birds thrive and drive them away.

Be a Buddy to Small Birds

Try to:


Don’t be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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