Tale of a pair of White-bellied Sunbirds trying to build a nest

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“I am a nature lover and love waking up to bird songs. My townhouse complex in Durban, South Africa, where I have been living for the last 7 years, has small and often manicured gardens. I have planted indigenous plants to attract birds but few birds actually come due to lack of adequate vegetation throughout the suburb.

Lion's Ear - courtesy Wikipedia Commons
Lion’s Ear – courtesy Wikipedia Commons

“However, I do get White-bellied Sunbirds (Cinnyris talatala). A pair usually visits when the Lion’s Ear (Leonora leonatis) are in flowers (above).

“These sunbirds have been nesting on the netting of my trellis for the second consecutive year (below).

Trellis (Photo by Neela Naidoo)
Trellis (Photo by Neela Naidoo)

“We do have a problem though as her nest materials appear to fall the moment she tries to tuck them into the plant that she has chosen as her base (below). She is always busy at building her nest, bringing in the nesting materials more or less a minute apart. It is really heart breaking to watch the nesting materials always fluttering down to get caught in a screen below.

Epiphytic plant (Photo by Neela Naidoo)
Epiphytic plant (Photo by Neela Naidoo)

“Last year there was an attempt at nest building by these sunbirds but the result was the same. Most probably this pair of sunbirds are inexperienced but I am sure they will get better with time.

“My little Lady Sunbird is still at it and not doing much better than the other day. I still hear her, but not as much as before. She chose an epiphyte to attach her nest onto and tucks her building materials underneath which still just flutter down (below). I do not see the male around.

Female sunbird (Photo by Neela Naidoo)
Female White-bellied sunbird (Photo by Neela Naidoo)

“Unfortunately, we have had gusts of winds of about 35km per hour as well as rain in the last couple of days which has been destroying the drape/veil of nest building material forming below her chosen spot.

“I must add that she did protest quite a bit (and rightly so!) when I tried to watch her from outside so I am relegated to watching her from indoors behind a curtain.

“My diligent lady sunbird is still at it but still no remote sign of a nest developing. I did see the male sunbird just now and I am wondering if it’s almost time for egg laying (below). He sat on a branch and sang a pretty loud beautiful song for a few seconds.

Male White-bellied Sunbird (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons)
Male White-bellied Sunbird (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

“I really wish that I was able to do something that will help, like place some sort of nest nearby for my special little sunbird to use. Maybe next year I will make a little hammock below before she arrives.

“They are definitely a pair. I will try to take better pics in the morning but no guarantee that the male will be around although I do believe that she fetched him just now to watch me closely because I was a bit too close to her nesting spot for comfort.”

Neela Naidoo
Durham, South Africa
3rd January 2018

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