News | 12 April 2024
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To feed or not to feed? Bringing birds to your backyard

With the urban location of Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne, manu (birds) of all kinds are visiting backyards around Wellington. They bring us joy, but with their return it is important to be aware of how we interact with them. The team at Zealandia recommend planting native trees and shrubs, rather than putting out sugar water feeders or fruit and nuts to attract manu to your gardens. Here are five reasons why.

Riroriro sitting on a branch.
Image credit: Scott Langdale.

1. Behaviour issues

Ordinarily, kākā must work for their food, but easy access to high-energy food leaves them with time and energy to burn! We hear of kākā damaging property, and it appears this behaviour occurs where they are being fed.

2. Feed everyone!

Planting trees and shrubs helps everyone in the ecosystem, like lizards, insects and insect-eating birds! Visitors like pīwakawaka (fantail), riroriro (grey warbler) and tauhou (silvereye) will be regulars in your garden.

3. Diseases

Disease spreads when high numbers of manu flock to feeders. These diseases can also pose a risk to humans. Trees allow manu to spread out and attract different species across the year.

Kaka with a scissor beak.
Kaka with a scissor beak - one of the risks of feeding them incorrect food. Photo by Kat McBaeth.

4. Predation

Feeders also make manu more vulnerable to predators. A loud group of manu can be a beacon for predators who can take advantage of distracted birds.

5. Nutrients

Manu have evolved alongside our native plants, which provide them with all the nutrients they need. Nuts are like junk food to them and can have negative impacts on their health. Feeding kākā can make them very sick, give them deformities, and even lead to death.

To find out more, visit the Zealandia website.

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