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Exotic Introduced Plants That Attract NZ Native Birds

NZ native birds create that special dimension to New Zealand gardens that are typically a combination of both New Zealand native plants and exotic introduced plants. It’s good to encourage more planting of New Zealand native plants, but we would be missing a wealth of useful and beautiful plants if we just planted native plants, so there is a compromise position that can be reached that incorporates both native and introduced plants that can create a glorious combination that most gardeners are striving for.

NZ native birds are attracted to the introduced plants listed below. These plants also attract many introduced birds that can be fascinating to watch.

Consider planting some of the introduced plants listed below or some of our native plants that attract New Zealand native birds listed here. If you want to attract NZ Native Birds to your garden.

Common Name
Botanical Name
Nectar,Fruit &/Or Seed
Aloe (various)AloeE50cm+N
Canna lily (red)Canna to 1.2mN
Cosmos annualCosmos bipinnatus50cm+S
French marigold annualTagetes patula 30cmS
Kangaroo pawAnigozanthusE1m+N
Lavender (various)Lavendula spicaE50cm+S
Love-lies-bleeding annualAmaranthus caudatusto 1mS
Phygelius (sub-shrub)Phygelius aequalis1mN
Red hot poker (various)Kniphofia1m+N
Sunflower (giant) annualHelianthus annuus1m+S
Banksia (various) BanksiaEto 8mN
Bastard jasmineCestrum purpureumE3mN
Bottlebush (various)CallistemonEto 5mN
Brazilian coral treeErythrina crista-galliD5m+N
Camellia (various)CamelliaE3m+N
Chinese lantern AbutilonE2m+N
Chinese holly*Mahonia lomariifoliaE3mN,F
Coral treeErythrina sykesiiD15mN
Crab appleMalusDto 5mF
Eucalyptus (various)EucalyptusEto 15mN
Firewheel treeStenocarpus sinuatusE6m+N
Grevillea (various)GrevilleaE60cm to 3m+N
Irish strawberry treeArbutusE3m+F
MulberryMorus nigraD5m+F
Phoenix palmPhoenix canariensisE6m+F
Shad bush Amelanchier canadensis4mF
Peruvian guavaPsidium cattleianumE6mF
Taiwan cherry* Prunus campanulataD6m+N,F
Tree lucerneCytisus proliferusE3m+Leaves
Waratah (various)TelopeaE4m+N
Chilean bell flowerLapageria roseaE5m N
Limited space?

There’s a number of both introduced and native plants species that can be grown in containers or hanging baskets to attract NZ native birds.

The diet of common NZ native birds are:

Bellbird -  nectar,fruit, insects

Fantail – insects

Kaka – nectar, fruit, insects

Kingfisher – insects, small rodents, lizards

Morepork – insects, small rodents,  lizards, birds

Tui – nectar, fruit, insects

Silver/White/Waxeye -  nectar, fruit, insects

Insect habitat

You can see from the list above many common NZ native birds eat insects, so consider creating habitats for insects by using natural mulches such as bark, compost, relocate leaves that pile up up unwanted places, a thin layer of lawn clippings ( around 25mm thick each time you mow, if you make a layer of lawn clipping too thick it can develop a putrid smell ).

Mulching has the added advantages of acting like a blanket so reducing weeding, and trapping moisture and warmth in the soil.

Consider bird saftey

If you have a bird bath try to have it away from cover where a cat may hide for a quick ambush attack.

Nesting & roosting

As well as growing suitable plants that attract and feed NZ native birds, they also need nesting and roosting trees nearby, so if you’ve got the space consider planting some of the larger trees.

Poisonous plants

Warning- Try to avoid planting Rhododendron near your nectar plants, especially if the flower colour is similar, because Rhododendron are deadly poisonous to Tui and other nectar feeding birds. The bird rescue service have to deal with Tui that have been poisoned by Rhododendron each year.

nz native birds

A New Zealand native wood pigeon ( Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae ) eating the fruit of a Peruvian guava ( Psidium cattleianum ).

So see if you can create a wonderful garden teaming with NZ native birds for you and your loved ones to enjoy, with some of the plants listed above.

Happy gardening!

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