PHOTO ESSAY: Sunbirds - The sweet side of nature

Within my 100 meters, I found a lovely couple of little sunbirds who were building their nest in a local bush.

Sunbird  (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)

In these very unusual times, when we humans are forced to stay home in order to avoid the equivalent of viral warfare, nature does not stop. Life is going on as it is supposed to in the wild world. Fortunately, we are allowed to walk a distance of 100 meters out of our homes and explore what we most likely have overlooked in the past.

It was in my immediate surroundings, close to home, where I found a lovely couple of little sunbirds who were building their nest in a local bush. They instinctively chose a spot that was hidden and high enough to avoid predators, such as cats and other birds. 

As soon as a hanging camouflaged nest is ready, the female sunbird lays two or three eggs in it and starts sitting on them. She allows only her beak to peek out of the opening and remains vigilant, ready to escape if real danger approaches. 

Most of us have probably seen this cute bird. It is a small creature that measures approximately four to five inches in length and weighs only around eight grams. It feeds mostly on flower nectar but occasionally will grab an insect in order to supplement its diet. The male is emerald green, whereas the female is a camouflaged gray and brown.

From February until July, males and females pair up in order to breed. The female will build the nest with an opening just large enough to fit her body, while the male guards the pair’s territory. After two weeks the real work begins, when three hungry orange little mouths open up and start demanding food. 

The parents cannot resist and find themselves enslaved, hunting for food during daylight hours. Since the sunbirds cannot bring the nectar from flowers to their young, they endlessly fly to catch insects wherever they can find them, and bring their catches to the nest right away. The mother and the father try to serve all three chicks equally so they will develop quickly and leave the nest. 

After two weeks in the nest the chicks are ready to leave and find shelter in a thick bush, however, they still the “slave” parents continue to feed them until they become independent. The sunbird is fairly common, so you have a good chance to find one close to home, or if you are lucky, discover a nesting couple like I did.