Sunbirds returned to our homestead when the rain returned. Through winter we watch the shy little Malachite Sunbird flitting between the vibrant orange aloe flowers. As the winter turns and the weather warms the little Sunbirds savour a variety of fruit nectar from our blossoming apricot, peach, plum and pomegranate trees. It is a wonderful sight. Earlier this year Sunbirds built an extravagant nest in the safety of a large cactus outside our bathroom. And then the joyful exclamations of my clambering BuckarooBabies caused the little Sunbirds to abandon their wonderful nest.
A couple weeks ago we noticed the tiny yellow face of the female Sunbird peeping out of the nest. Spring has finally arrived - late - in our corner of Creation. The BuckarooBabies are far less noisy about the nest and have learned that they can observe the nest quietly from a distance.
With five cats on our homestead the choice of a rather nasty looking cactus was a smart one for their nursery home. The mountainside is filled with the chatter of hundreds of other birds, mostly weavers, and yet our shy little Sunbird quietly sits on her eggs. When she does pop out briefly I am able to peep inside the nest.
However its architect designed the nest in an inverted L-shape and the feather lined base is barely seen, let alone the minute eggs. How these little Sunbirds constructed the nest is truly remarkable. With the incredible heat of our semi-desert valley I hope the angle keeps the little Sunbird family cool when the chicks hatch.
The Sunbird incubation period is only 14 days. Although only the female sits on the eggs both parents participate in raising their babies. Sadly the survival rate of Sunbird hatchlings is very low. But we hope to see the happy little family flitting around the homestead later this summer. Until then, we quietly peep at mama Sunbird in her lofty home as she awaits the hatching of her beautiful babies.