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It's quiet on George St now, but Orokonui Ecosanctuary is busy with Korimako (Bellbirds). - check out @alexhweller on Instagram.
Photo by Alex Weller

"The more you feed, the more they breed."

Wild Dunedin —

"The more you feed, the more they breed" is Tahu Mackenzie's mantra on why we should give our native birds a helping hand. As it's now cooling down, feeding our native birds sugar water and fruit will top up what they can source in the wild. In return, the birds might treat you with an up close appearance outside your window, so rewarding in this time of isolation.

Tahu works as an environmental educator at Orokonui Ecosanctuary so knows a lot about our native birds.  

Tahu Mackenzie - nature's entertainer and educator at Orokonui Ecosanctuary — Image by: Tahu Mackenzie

Sugar water can be made up with half a cup of sugar per litre of water. (A drop of red food colouring will help to attract birds at the start.) Anything higher may attract bees and wasps or start to ferment more quickly.

Our native birds also like fruit cut in half and kept in place with a nail - orange, apple or pear.

In winter native birds love fat for extra energy.

Putting out bird seed will only attract introduced birds.

Never feed introduced or native birds bread.

Important: Wash bottles with warm soapy water and rinse well before replacing sugar water.  

Tahu says at Orokonui Ecosanctuary they do this every morning.

Tahu and Harvey Penfold have developed predator resistant    Peka Peka bird feeders to ensure our native birds have a safe place to feed. The feeders are affordable, mobile and hygienic.

Check them out on https://pekapekabirdfeeders.nz

Peka Peka Bird Feeder in action. Jonas Goodwin

You can't buy Peka Peka Bird feeders at the moment due to the COVID-19 lockdown, but they are usually available at Mitre 10 or from the website. 

Forest and Bird have some good advice regarding feeding birds:  https://www.forestandbird.org.nz/resources/feeding-native-birds-garden

Here's a way to make a home made feeder in the meantime: 

To Make a Sugar Feeder -

  • Take a one-litre milk bottle and attach the lid to a shallow dish or jar lid. 
  • Fill the milk bottle with sugar water and make a few small holes about half a centimetre from the bottom of the bottle.
  • Screw it into the lid and turn the dish upside down. 
  • Sugar solution will come out of the bottle and fill the dish to the height of the holes.