This sunbird is common in gardens, fynbos, forests and coastal scrub. The southern double-collared sunbird breeds from April to December, depending on region. The closed oval nest is constructed from grass, lichen and other plant material, bound together with spider webs. It has a side entrance which sometimes has a porch, and is lined with wool, plant down and feathers.
The southern double-collared sunbird (as seen in the photo captured below while walking about in the Sibuya Game Reserve) is usually seen singly or in small groups. Its flight is fast and direct on short wings. It lives mainly on nectar from flowers, but takes some fruit, and, especially when feeding young, insects and spiders. It can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perches to feed most of the time.
The call is a hard chee-chee, and the song is high pitched jumble of tinkling notes, rising and falling in pitch and tempo for 3–5 seconds or more.
Winter time is not as cold, dull and boring as people may think. With the warmth of these bright oranges and reds scattered across the bushveld and all the beautiful insects and colourful birds that accompany these beauties, it’s actually a time of visual feast!
Amongst flashes of brilliant orange come the florescent greens, reds and blues of the many different species of Sunbird found in the Eastern Cape: Malachite, Greater double-collared, Southern double-collared, Collared and the greenish-purple iridescent Amethyst Sunbird. These gorgeously colourful little birds can be seen visiting the Aloe flowers on Sibuya Game Reserve and are a crucial part in pollination of these plants.
On the Reserve, Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe) and Aloe pluridens (French Aloe) are currently both flowering with long inflorescent spikes densely covered in brilliant flowers. Aloes have been used for jams and ‘living fences’ but are better known for their medicinal value and health benefits. Skin care, purgative and dietary products are commonly found in any Pharmacy stocking natural options.
As Aloes are easily propagated – why not grow one in your own garden and help boost a bee, Sunbird or other species with a winter treat of delicious nectar or a juicy insect!
Photo Credit: Chris Ovens