Gardening for birds

ENJOYABLE MORNING: Front: Wendy Winter, Denise and Rob Winter. Back: Jenny Richardson, Warren Schmidt and Jean Stothart.

GUEST speaker Warren Schmidt has led an interesting life and spoke to members of the Johannesburg South Garden Club at their November meeting about ways to encourage birds into the garden by planting flowers, shrubs and trees which will attract them.

Warren began his career in the 1990s at the Old Transvaal State Park in Midrand where he spent about seven years at the Snake Park. He was then offered a position at the Crocodile Farm at Sun City and met the likes of Michael Jackson and other celebrities.

“The novelty soon wore off though and I came back to Johannesburg and began submitting a few articles to the then SA Garden Magazine under the editorship of Kate Montgomery. I was also a regular columnist for The Home Handyman and then Kate offered me a position of a full-time junior journalist which I jumped at,” he said.

With the onset of online print versus print media, magazines became more expensive and advertising dropped and these type of magazines became more unaffordable, so Warren made a decision to sign up at the University of KwaZulu Natal to finish his doctorate.

“My passion is definitely bio-diversity and ecological solutions and I’m happy to be back here at the garden club today to chat to you about how to attract birds to your garden,” Warren added.

“Different species of birds enjoy different types of food. Fruit and berry feeding birds include the Speckled Mousebird, Grey Go-away bird, African Olive Pigeon and Dark-capped Bulbul and the Cape Glossy Starling.

“The hoopoe will consume small amounts of fruit and seeds but are generally insect feeders and will move around on the lawn in search of tiny insects.

“Try and plant a variety of different plants which will give you a greater chance of attracting more species of birds. A birdbath, as a bird feeder, is also a good idea as birds like to drink and bathe in the water. You’ll begin to get a regular flock of birds if they know you put out food every day. Place the feeder above the ground where cats won’t be able to catch the birds. Birds also look for shelter. Storms create havoc for birds and if their nests aren’t in a sheltered spot their eggs can be blown out of the nest,” added Warren.

“With average temperatures having warmed up over the years more unusual birds will be seen in your gardens. If you have a big pond you may likely attract aquatic birds such as Egyptian geese. These have increased tenfold over recent years, as well as African black ducks.”

Warren concluded his talk adding that leaving fallen leaves in the garden will encourage small birds as they feed from underneath them where small insects may be.

Also Read: 

Growing bulbs with Joburg South Garden Club

Joburg South Garden Club April meetings

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Julie Maule
News Editor

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