Tag Archives: blue waxbill

Swee Waxbills at Kirstenbosch

When we lived in Namibia we were fortunate enough to come across a number of different kinds of waxbills and were always delighted when the colourful Blue and Violet-eared waxbills came to feed in our garden.  We don’t see enough of these sweet little birds in our garden here in Durban for some strange reason, so imagine how pleased we were to have a chance to photograph Swee waxbills (Coccopygia melanotis) during our visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town in December.  We also saw Common waxbills whilst we were there, but, as their name suggests, they are fairly common, so our focus was on the Swees.

Swee waxbill

We followed a happy pair flitting about in the flowers, calling to each other with gentle ‘swee swee‘ sounds.  They are easy to tell apart as the male’s cheeks and ear coverts are black, whilst the female has a pale grey face.  Both have reddish orange tail markings and distinctive black upper and red lower mandibles.

Swee waxbill Swee waxbill

They are mainly seed-eaters, but also forage on the ground or on plant stems for small insects and larvae.  They’re mainly found in small groups or pairs, which are monogamous and territorial.  When they are ready to breed (between October and April) the building of the nest is a team effort, with the male bringing in the material.  According to Roberts Birds of S A, larger clutches of eggs are sometimes laid by two different males (between three and nine eggs) at one day intervals.  Both parents are involved in the incubation and the feeding.

Swee waxbill

It certainly was a treat to see these lovely little birds in such a nice setting and to be able to add a few more photos to our collection.

The Breakfast Club

Over the years we’ve belonged to a number of interesting clubs that have contributed greatly to our interests and hobbies.  Hiking clubs, birding and sports clubs and the like, but I think that the most rewarding one of all has been our very own breakfast club.  Like the others, this one has its share of members who come and go, but Rob and I, being the core and founder members, are always there to keep it going and wherever our path takes us we are assured of a faithful following, hungry and grateful for our contribution to their lives.  The members of this club are, of course, our beautiful avian friends that we feed every morning.

Long-tailed paradise whydah

Initially it takes a few days for the club to get noticed, but once the word spreads we are inundated with guests.  We often find them waiting even before we have opened our doors in the morning.  They get quite impatient too – if we are late delivering they set up a dawn chorus of chirps to remind us that they’re hungry.  It’s gratifying to see how popular our unofficial restaurant has become.


We get to know the little quirks and eccentricities of some of the regulars and that’s what makes a club like this so interesting.  It really broadens one’s knowledge of temperaments and dominant characters and personalities.  And when we move house we get to meet new and different friends and our next club is soon established and vibrant.


Here in Windhoek we have a wonderful pageant of birdies who visit us every morning.  Apart from the usual house sparrows and canaries, we get to see a number of very colourful birds.  And of course their plumage often changes with the seasons, so we also see them tranforming from their drab winter outfits and developing fine breeding feathers, then strutting their stuff in front of the ladies as they get more beautiful.


Because of the regular supply of seeds and bread, a number of southern masked weavers have built nests in the trees next to our fence.  We’ve been able to watch them rearing their babies and launching them into the world (sometimes with disastrous results!)  If we could offer crawling and flying insects as well we would have a much wider variety of birds to welcome to our space, but unfortunately that is a little more difficult than buying a packet of seeds or a loaf of bread from the local supermarket!

Southern masked weaver

Some of the birds we’ve fed here include :

Bulbuls, blue waxbills, red-headed finches, southern masked weavers, red-billed queleas, rosy-faced lovebirds, southern red bishops, long-tailed paradise whydahs, chestnut weavers, acacia pied barbets, shaft-tailed whydahs, laughing doves, speckled pigeons, pale-winged starlings, great sparrows, canaries, white-browed sparrow weavers.  (I’m sure there are a few that have slipped my mind!)


It’s delightful to start the day off watching these beautiful little creatures getting stuck in to their breakfast.  Kind of sets a peaceful tone for the rest of the day.  An added bonus is that we can photograph them too.