August 5, 2007

10 tips for wildlife visitors to your garden

Jackie French, the author of The Secret World of Wombats (The Amazing World of Wallabies will be out early next year from Angus and Robertson/Harper Collins), gives great advice for maintaining a wildlife-friendly garden in this linked SMH article.

We have an orange tree and a lemon tree, which attracts gangs of cockatoos on their end of the day forage, and possums at night. The cockatoos strew the lawn with half-eaten oranges — they're too good for lemons — discarded after holding the orange in their claw, peeling off the top of the skin with their beaks, and then ripping into the contents like drunks at a cocktail party. After its fill, the cockatoo flies off with a satisfied screech and a squawk... and a new replacement instantly appears in flash of white wings, sparing the tree no relief. At night, the possums race up and down the roof — they get on one end along the single strand of telephone wire coming in off the street — shoot across the roof to launch themselves off the roof onto the lemon tree, and from there, onto the orange tree. Their tell-tail signs are the hollowed out orange skins still attached to the branch. If you are going to encourage them into your garden you need to discourage them from getting into your roof. You don't want to try growing tomatoes either.

So there is a lot of noise day and night; flocks of cockatoos of the move can be deafening and possums are loud spitters and hissers when being territorial, and the nocturnal possum fights can be as disturbing as cats on heat.

But I'll take the din of wildlife over the drone of traffic, any day.

Without further ado, here's Jackie's Top Ten Tips from her article:

clipped from

■ Keep cats and dogs indoors after dusk.

■ Ensure trees and roosting spots are safe from cats - put wide collars around tree trunks and large tree branches to stop cats encroaching while bats are feeding or sleeping.

■ Allow some of your lawn to go to seed for seed-eating birds.
■ Leave spiders' webs on your eaves for birds to use in their nests.
■ A small, solar-powered garden light will attract insects for night-flying birds and bats - and for frogs, too, if it's near a pond.
■ Use mulch. Mulch feeds worms and other small creatures, and they'll feed birds and lizards. Mulch is also a great shelter for all sorts of things.
■ Don't scrape lichen off trees — it's nesting material for birds.

■ Paperbarks and other trees with loose bark also provide nesting material. No paperbarks? Leave the castings from your brush or comb near the bird feeder and they'll probably be foraged instead.

■ Cover chimney tops with chicken wire to stop possums falling in.

■ Avoid pesticides and herbicides.

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