Through close and often daily observations, some interesting facts about our sunbirds,have surfaced.
Whether these facts apply to all the families through out Australia and therefore contravene some previously established observations, will be a matter for discussion. At this stage I have been able to observe the sunbird families for 5 months, on a daily basis.
1-The sunbirds are territorial birds. The male sunbird is head of the family and patrols his territory vigorously. The male sunbird scans the area for danger, perched on high vantage points. We have 4 different families of sunbirds living in our area. Enid, Charlie and Errol live in our yard, and the right side neighbours palm trees. Frazzle and his family lives on the southern side,in a heavily treed section near the road, Bibby and his family, live in the Oleander bushes at our neighbours yard to the west,and an other family with 2 female chicks who sometimes come to visit ,must also live in the facinity, but I have not found their territory as yet. The territories are quite large.
2- The male sunbird make the selection for the nesting in conjunction with the female sunbird. They chat excitedly together once they have found a spot to commence work. Both male and female sunbird contribute to the building of the nest. The female sunbird is more prominent in the final stages of finishing the interior, and appears to be the only one to fully immerse herself inside the nest, once the feathers and soft cushioning has been deposited.
3-The daily nesting periods are highly organised. Once the eggs are laid, the female sunbird will leave the nest at a certain time in the morning and return at regular intervals. The male sunbird can be seen and heard not too far away, as they scurry off for food. Sometimes he will fly in to check the surroundings and look for danger, but he does not stay.This changes when the eggs have hatched. The female sunbird returns every evening, with such precision that you can set the clock by it. By 5 pm she would be settled in her nest, ready for the night.
4-Once the eggs have hatched, both male and female sunbird take part in the feeding and looking after their chicks. The food ferrying commences at around 9am until 11 am. The male sunbird will approach the nest from a distance, chattering and tweeting, and then settle himself on a high point to check for predators, or to take in the sunshine! They disappear for 20 to 30 minutes ( sometimes these times were a little staggered as I sat waiting with the camera and there were delays which made me abandon the shots) In the early days of the hatching, the male comes in occasionally to check the nest and make minor modifications or repairs, if they are needed. I occasionally saw him with a twig in his beak adjusting the little patio roof. The male does not appear to play a prominent part in the caring and feeding of the first days up to a week of the chicks hatching.It is when the chicks start making audible noise that the male sunbird slips into his role,and what a major role it is!
to be continued