Today, on World Wildlife Day, we celebrate our beautiful planet’s wild fauna and flora in their many delightful and diverse forms. Taking one quick stroll through the garden on a mid-summer afternoon will soon reveal we do not have enough fingers to count the myriad of plant and animal species that find their home in the soil, trees, shrubs, ponds, and every other nook and cranny in our gardens.
In light of World Wildlife Day, @ernstvanjaarsveld
shares tips and advice on planting a garden that encourages, supports and protects wildlife in your garden.
The attraction of birds and butterflies to beautiful flowers are shared with humans and therefore our beautiful colourful gardens are visited often by both. A garden filled with wildlife reflects a safe home, and with the right planning, we can double the variety of butterflies and birds that visit the garden.
"By using the right plants, a garden can soon create a paradise for birds and butterflies."
Not only are flowers and fruits attractive to these animals, but also dense shrubs for nesting. El Niño’s fierce droughts over the past few decades have even brought birds that were known only from the bushveld areas to settle in our gardens.
Our natural fields are being systematically pushed back by our growing population. Therefore, plan your garden so that it will be a natural home for our native animals and you can also play a role in conservation. Planting an indigenous garden that requires lower maintenance also saves water because it is not necessary to water frequently. In addition, you bring an African atmosphere back to the garden, something the foreign tourist wants to see.
A birdbath which will soon be used by feathery friends and a simple feeding place on a stump out of reach of cats or dogs can be created and will bring great joy. Butterflies and other insects will also attract insectivorous birds again.
"Without birdsong and twittering, our lives would have been poorer too."
Flower colour and shape also betray the type of visitor the plant wants to attract. Tubular flowers with bright orange, red or yellow colours are filled with nectar and are irresistible to sunbirds and white-eyes. These plants also have a sturdy inflorescence that provides the necessary support. An aloe garden during winter is then like a restaurant for birds where they can choose from a variety of flavours from different species.
Small and mildly scented white, yellow and purple flowers with soft fragile stems do not provide much support for birds but are visited by insects such as butterflies for the purpose of pollination. After pollination, the plant also has another problem - how to spread its seed and give its offspring a place in the sun. The fruit is nutritious and serves as a reward. Therefore, through the right plant combination, we can transform a garden into a natural feeding place for birds and butterflies and other animals such as hawkmoths and lizards.
Want to know which plants are best for attracting birds to your garden? Check out the article below!
Tips for attracting birds to the garden
The purpose of a feeding place is not to make the birds totally dependent on the food but merely serves as a supplement.
Birdbath | Water is irresistible to birds and a simple birdbath in a strategic location will quickly attract many birds and provide pleasure throughout the year. They will not only use it as a drinking bath but also for bathing. The bath should preferably be deep enough or the water will evaporate too quickly. Also, remember to arrange the bathtub so that it is visible from inside the house, so the birds can be watched undisturbed.
Fishpond | Fish ponds attract colourful birds and dragonflies and will also provide a variety of frogs.
Feeding station | A simple platform like a piece of slate placed in a quiet corner, protected from dogs and cats but within sight, with dry bread, fresh bone meal, mince or fruit provided. A hanging feeding bowl can also be hung on a branch. Pigeons, sparrows, canaries, yellow and red finch are grain eaters and will feast on old bread. Bushshrikes, fiscals, white-eyes, olive thrushes, and robins are eager mince and bone meal eaters. Fruit attracts other species such as starlings, mousebirds, crested barbet and Cape bulbul.
Tree trunk | The trunk of a dead or fallen tree can be used by crested barbets to build nests.
Benefits of Birds in a Garden
Glass eyes and other insectivorous birds eat plant- and scale lice and other harmful insects. In this way, they maintain population levels and play a positive role in pest control.
Birds bring life into a garden, enrich the outdoors and provide endless fun, especially for children.
Apart from being colourful, it also provides beautiful music for the ears.
Pollination of plants for fruiting and spread seed.
Birds also play a large role in maintaining micro-ecosystems by transporting mites and other organisms from one area to another.
Birds alter environments that create a habitat for other organisms. For instance, woodpeckers create cavities where smaller insects can nest and breed.