Habitat for Big Birds

Photo: Michael Todd

Habitat for Big Birds

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Making your garden a friendly place for big birds will turn it into a fantastic, enjoyable, thriving place.

Large birds such as parrots, cockatoos, kookaburras, honeyeaters, birds of prey and others will add colour and excitement to your backyard.

These bigger birds are also great to have around as they will eat up snakes, skinks, lizards, insects, and rodents. Nectar-eating big birds will help to pollinate some of your plants.

With a few simple steps, you can transform your garden into a haven for big birds.

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Create a nestbox. Photo: OEH

Be a Backyard Buddy

Many large birds can get muscled out of your garden by territorial and aggressive Magpies, Apostlebirds, and other common birds.

But there’s a lot you can do to encourage a greater range of bird visitors to your backyard, and provide somewhere great for them all to enjoy.

Big birds need:

  • Hollows: Leave larger trees, especially old eucalyptus trees with hollows. It takes 75 to 100 years for trees to develop hollows, which make excellent nesting and shelter sites for many native species. As more large trees get removed, competition gets fiercer between all types of birds and animals that need them. Buddies that use hollows include kookaburras, owls, parrots, pardalotes, possums, gliders, phascogales, microbats and many others.
  • Fallen branches, rotting logs, and old stumps: On the ground, as they can contain hollows which birds such as parrots, owls, Kestrels and other birds can nest in. Hollow logs will also attract lizards, insects, and other animals which will be a food source for larger birds.
  • Leaf litter, fallen bark, sticks and mulch: Throughout your garden, as this will encourage lizards and insects, which birds love to eat. It will also provide some good material that big birds can use to build their nests.
  • Local native plants: You can ask which plants are native to your area at your local nursery, by ringing your council, or by getting in touch with the nearest Landcare or Bushcare group. Plant your local natives in patches, rather than individually in isolated spots.
  • A range of native plants: as the greater the plant diversity is in your garden, the greater variety of birds you’re likely to see.
  • The right kind of food: different big birds eat different things.
  • Nectar: Honeyeaters and some Parrots, such as Red and Little Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets and so on, eat nectar from flowers. Plants such as Banksia, Callistemon (Bottlebrush), Eucalpytus, Grevillea, Hakea, and Melaleuca (Paperbark) are great for them.
  • Fruits and berries: Fruit eaters such as Satin Bowerbirds, Common Koels and Wonga Pigeons love Lillipillies, Quandong and Figs. Many bigger birds will eat from native as well as introduced fruit trees.
  • Prey: Big birds such as currawongs, Laughing Kookaburras, butcherbirds, owls, and other birds of prey eat meat. Any reptiles, frogs, small mammals or other birds you encourage to your garden could become a meal for these carnivorous birds.
  • Water: Provide a water source such as a bird bath for birds to drink from and bathe in. Freshen the water regularly, and refill when empty, and you will have many a happy visitor to your backyard.
  • Water: in a cat-proof, elevated bird bath, that is placed next to a spiky, dense bush.
  • Nesting materials: Including leaf litter, sticks, bark and grasses.

Try to:

  • Put up a nest box. Different birds have different requirements about what size and shape box they will nest in, so do your research before buying or building a nest box, if you want to attract or help a specific species that you’ve seen around your area.
  • Keep your cat indoors: as they are natural hunters and will go after birds.


  • Feeding birds. Throwing some bread, scraps or seeds to the cockies may seem like harmless fun at first, but when a bird discovers a good food source, it often returns with its friends. What started as one visitor can soon turn into a whole flock. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos who have been fed can return and cause problems by stripping wood from decks, window frames, and trees as they wait for someone to come and feed them. It is best to avoid creating this problem by letting birds find their own food, and planting local natives that will provide food for them. Birds will be much healthier, and less dependent, this way.
  • Letting unwanted species use your nest boxes! While you may put up a nest box suited to a Kookaburra or Parrot, competition for hollows is so fierce that you may find another creature using the box. Inspect the nest box regularly, and if introduced mynas or other unwanted predators take up residence in it, humanely evict them so that native birds get a chance. Be careful though as you never know what could be found in a nest box, and it may not want to leave.

Some common big birds include:

  • Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
  • Little Corellas
  • Long-billed Corellas
  • Crimson Rosellas
  • Rainbow Lorikeets
  • Eastern Rosellas
  • Masked Lapwings
  • Australian Magpies
  • Pied Currawongs
  • Red Wattlebirds
  • Little Wattlebirds
  • Galahs
  • Laughing Kookaburras
  • Australian King-Parrots
  • Ravens
  • Satin Bowerbirds

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care… and take a few simple steps. Backyard Buddies are the native plants and animals that share our urban areas, waterways, backyards and parks.  Backyard Buddies are also the people who value native wildlife and want to protect it.

Find out more about your buddies


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