Southern Double-collared Sunbird

Spring has not exactly sprung as yet but the first winter rains, in the form of several striding fronts sweeping up from the South Atlantic, have greened up the local environment immeasurably following the long dry summer.

All around the resident bird mix is now overtly engaged in setting up breeding territories in eager anticipation of the warmer weather to come with the austral spring now round the corner.

Out front with bags of attitude as they flit about in a flurry of conspicuous exuberance in full breeding dress are all three of our resident sunbirds in the form of Malachite, Southern Double-collared and the highly flamboyant Orange-breasted Sunbird.

orange-breasted-sunbirdOrange-breasted Sunbird

Stands of various aloe species supporting a wide range of flower heads, ranging from primrose yellow through to post-box red, are central to Malachite Sunbird territorial behaviour, with males in emerald green interacting almost constantly with one another throughout the day. One only has only to pick a stand of flowering aloes and within minutes a male is bound to arrive to take up a dominant position within the canopy of candelabra-like flower heads.

Lower down within the mix of many ‘fynbos ‘species are the Southern Double-collared Sunbirds energetically working their way through the mix of flowering heaths and pincushions between bouts of aerial engagement with intruding males from adjacent territories.

malachite-sunbirdMalachite Sunbird

Without doubt the stars of the local sunbird show, and almost a colourful floral attraction in their own right, are the ever so endearing and hyper-active male Orange-breasted Sunbirds as they flit about frenetically in constant pursuit of females while simultaneously challenging intruders as part of the territorial imperative. So engrossed are the males in such behaviour that is possible to get really close to their regular call-sites for those magical moments when both bird and flower merge in a blaze of primary colours.

Right now as I type the cold weather has boosted sunbird attendance around the nectar feeder in our indigenous garden providing up close and sumptuous views of all three sunbird species, as well as a variety of other regular garden birds such as Cape Bulbul, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Sugarbird and ubiquitous flocks of Cape White-eye to add to the visual excitement on a warm sunny day. All in all a great time to be in Cape Town in spite of the odd cold and overcast day…

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