Tag Archives: Kirstenbosch

Southern double-collared sunbirds at Kirstenbosch

Last week I posted some photographs of the Orange-breasted sunbirds that we saw at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.  This week their cousins take centre stage; the beautiful Southern double-collared sunbirds, which flit amongst the Proteas and Ericas of Kirstenbosch gathering nectar and doing their bit for pollination.  Also known as the Lesser double-collared sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) this little sunbird has a wider habitat than the Orange-breasted sunbird and, not being restricted to fynbos, is found further afield in the Karoo, and in the forests and gardens in the eastern parts of  South Africa.

Southern double-coloured sunbird

The sunbirds that we photographed here don’t have the familiar broad red breast band as they are in their eclipse plumage The adult males in the Western Cape moult in October to December, so we were probably just a little early to see these beautiful birds in their full finery.  We often find birds quite a puzzle to identify when they aren’t dressed in their full colours.

Southern double-coloured sunbird Southern double-coloured sunbird

Their diet mainly consists of nectar, which is drawn up after inserting their long curved bill into the corolla tube of the flower.  If there is no tube, the bill is used to pierce the base of the flower.  During this feeding pollen sticks to the bill and tongue and is transported to the next flower, allowing the bird to perform its pollinating function without any effort.  These sunbirds don’t only rely on nectar for their nourishment, but also eat small invertebrates like beetles, insects, spiders and larvae.

Southern double-coloured sunbird

Breeding pairs are monogamous and quite territorial during the breeding season.  The female lays between one and three eggs that she incubates over a period of thirteen to sixteen days.  The eggs are oval and vary enormously in colour.  Nests are occasionally parasitised by Klaas’s Cuckoo, which, as you can imagine, must have these little sunbirds worn out finding food for their ever-hungry and much larger adoptees!

Southern double-coloured sunbird

The flowers at Kirstenbosch certainly provide a beautiful backdrop for enjoying these happy little birds.  Next time I’ll blog about the waxbills that we saw in the same area.

Orange-breasted Sunbirds at Kirstenbosch

One of the fun things about being a bird lover is that it gives you an opportunity to seek out places where you know certain birds are found.  This happened to us this Christmas when we visited Cape Town for a couple of days.  We knew that Kirstenbosch (our national botanical garden), with its beds of colourful Proteas and Ericas attracted a variety of birds, so a plan was made to brave the crowds to photograph the local feathered residents.  We were mainly on the hunt for Sugarbirds (which alas proved elusive on the day) and Sunbirds that are endemic to fynbos, and what a delightful few hours we spent there.  I will focus on the Orange-breasted sunbird this week, as this beautiful bird is extremely photogenic and fortunately not too camera shy.

Orange-breasted-sunbird-Kirstenbosch

I photographed their detailed information board which saves me from writing about them myself – how clever was that!  Just click on the photo to enlarge it for reading.

Detailed information on sunbirds Orange-breasted-sunbird-Kirstenbosch

The flowers at this time of the year are quite beautiful and are obviously full of nectar for the birds.

Orange-breasted-sunbird - female

The females are rather drab compared to their gorgeous male counterparts.

Orange-breasted-sunbird-Kirstenbosch

 

Next week I’ll put up pictures of the Lesser double-collared sunbirds – also very sweet and quite active in the fynbos.