17 October 2012

Just a baby sunbird

Fledged four days ago. At first just a tiny ball of fluff, completely out of control, crashing into the ground and cheeping plaintively while its parents fluttered around frantically . It's a miracle any birds survive their first day or two out of the nest in the hungry wild. Two days later, when this photo was taken, it was starting to fly and move through the plants confidently, even exploring flowers for nectar. But it's still very much a baby. The non-stop peep-peep-peeping makes it easy to find in the garden while its parents hurry around and bring food. I was lucky that the nest was right next to my vegetable garden, so I could watch the show from the very start, and they soon got used to me being a few feet away. Father, like all male Lesser Double-collared sunbirds, is small but spectacular, with an iridescent green head and postbox red breast, separated by a narrow band of the deepest royal blue. He seemed to spend most of his time on top of the nearby Cape Honeysuckle or the fence, showing off his disco plumage and singing his heart out. You could tell when baby hatched, because suddenly mom was around again, all businesslike, backwards and forwards between collecting insects and delivering them. Maybe, baby it will hang around long enough so that I can see it's going to be a shiny boy or a sleek grey girl.

Southern Double-collared Sunbird or Lesser Double-collared Sunbird, Cinnyris chalybeus (formerly in the genus Nectarinia).

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