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Planting for Birds

Tui in Prunus campanulata The following is a list of native trees, plants and introduced trees and plants that may attract birds to your garden or farm. The list is not exhaustive.
E = Evergreen, D = Deciduous

Common Name Botanical Name E/D Height Bird Visitors

Cabbage tree Cordyline australis E 6m+ variety of birds
Five finger Pseudopanax arboreus E 4m+  variety of birds
Flax (various) Phormium E to 5m Tui, bellbird 
Fushsia (tree) Fushsia excorticata E 12m Tui, bellbird
Karaka Corynocarpus laevigatus E 18m native pigeon
Karo  Pittosporum crassifolium E 10m variety of birds
Kowhai (various) Sophora  E to 10m Tui, native pigeon
Nikau palm Rhopalostylis sapida E 10m native pigeon, Kaka
Pohutukawa Metrosideros E to 25m variety of birds
Puriri Vitex lucens E 20m variety of birds
Rewarewa Knightia excelsa E to 30m variety of birds
Native Climber
Tecomanthe Tecomanthe speciosa E 5m Tui
Introduced plants
Aloe (various) Aloe E 50cm+ Tui, bellbird
Canna lily (red) Canna  to 1m Tui, bellbird
Cosmos annual Cosmos bipinnatus 50cm+ finches
French marigold annual Tagetes patula  30cm finches
Kangaroo paw Anigozanthus E 1m+ Tui, bellbird 
Lavender (various) Lavendula spica E 50cm+ finches
Love-lies-bleeding annual Amaranthus caudatus to 1m finches
Phygelius (sub-shrub) Phygelius aequalis 1m bellbird
Red hot poker (various) Kniphofia 1m+ Tui, bellbird
Sunflower (giant) annual Helianthus annuus 1m+ finches etc
Banksia (various)  Banksia E to 8m Tui, bellbird
Bastard jasmine Cestrum purpureum E 3m Tui, bellbird
Bottlebush (various) Callistemon E to 5m variety of birds
Brazilian coral tree Erythrina crista-galli D 5m variety of birds
Camellia (various) Camellia E 3m Tui, bellbird
Chinese lantern  Abutilon E 2m+ Tui, bellbird
Chinese holly* Mahonia lomariifolia E 3m variety of birds
Coral tree Erythrina sykesii D 15m variety of birds
Crab apple Malus D to 5m blackbirds
Elderberry Sambucus D 5m variety of birds
Eucalyptus (various) Eucalyptus E to 15m variety of birds
Firewheel tree Stenocarpus sinuatus E 6m variety of birds
Grevillea (various) Grevillea E to 3m variety of birds
Irish strawberry tree Arbutus E 3m+ blackbirds
Mulberry Morus nigra D 5m variety of birds
Phoenix palm Phoenix canariensis E 6m variety of birds
Shad bush  Amelanchier canadensis 4m blackbird
Taiwan cherry*  Prunus campanulata D 6m+ Tui, bellbird
Tree lucerne Cytisus proliferus E 3m+ native pigeon
Waratah (various) Telopea E to 4m Tui, bellbird
Chilean bell flower Lapageria rosea E 5m  bellbird
Some succulents are also visited by Tui and bellbirds

Plants that may be a threat to birds:

Parapara, Pisonia brunnonianum.  This is also called the “bird catcher tree”.  The seedpods are extremely sticky and small birds become caught on the pods.  Larger birds (like the morepork) also become trapped when they try to predate on the ensnared bird. One way to get over this problem, is to cut off the seedpods before they reach the sticky stage. The plant uses the dead birds as nutrients for the seeds when the ripe seed falls off with the dead bird.

Rhododendron, Rhododendron.  Each year tui are brought into bird rescue centres with poisoning from rhododendrons. It is extremely poisonous. I have found that if a camellia is visited by tui in the flowering season, and a rhododendron is flowering nearby of the same colour, the tui may visit this shrub to feed.   In my experience, it was a red rhododendron.  This has now been removed.   If tui are not treated quickly they will die with rhododendron poisoning. (Rhododendron is also toxic to stock etc).

*As some introduced trees and plants can become plant pests in some area please contact your local Regional Council for a list of plant pests.

More information:

Department of Conservation: Attract birds to your garden: list of trees
How to make your garden more environmentally friendly
Contact: Rosemary Tully

Information for this page was provided and written by Rosemary Tully;   [email protected]
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