Helping a beloved garden inhabitant

Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Photo: Gerard O'Brien
A backyard visit from a kereru is always a delight. It is remarkable that these placid vegetarians, with their ungainly ways and appetising appearance, remain a common sight in urban gardens.

Kereru (or kukupa) are adaptable creatures. They feed from a variety of native and introduced trees and shrubs, ranging widely and adjusting their diets to what is in season.

When selecting bird-attracting plants for your garden, consider some that are appealing to our native wood pigeon.

Sophora molloyi `Dragon's Gold' is a small, bushy form of kowhai, which flowers in the dead of winter. It works well in home gardens, inviting birds down low where you can watch them gobble-prune the fresh leaves.

Kowhai is in the nutritious legume family, along with broom and gorse. Kereru have no bias against exotic plants, and are also very keen on the tough, quick-growing tree lucerne (Cytisus proliferus).

Another fast grower is wineberry (Aristotelia serrata), one of many native fruiting trees.

Kereru adore native fruit and play a vital role in the regeneration of lowland forests. Nurture an eco-sourced miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea) in your garden, and kereru will ensure its kakano find their way to the bush.

If you have a plum tree in your back garden you may have noticed kereru sharing in your harvest, sometimes indulging to the point of drunkenness. They'll eat the leaves, buds and flowers too. Between feeds they get very thirsty so a deep bird bath or better still, running water, may entice them to stay a bit longer and minimise any hangover.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information please contact Kate Caldwell.


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