Sunbirds all a twitter
TWEETING all bird lovers, here’s something that will certainly make you twitch.
This Olive-backed sunbird was photographed in Port Douglas yesterday with its chicks which are only several days shy of being due to fledge and fly off and fend for themselves.
Andrew Forsyth, of Red Mill House, a real bird watchers’ paradise in the Daintree, said that even though this was the quiet time of the year for these particular birds some still have chicks and need to be aware of their natural predators such as black butcher birds.
“What the black butcher bird does is to ’monitor’ the nests with the chicks and on the very day that they fledge and due fly off - and this is also when they’re at their fattest - the butcher bird swoops in and devours the chicks,” Mr Forsyth said.
“And as most birds only raise two chicks this is quite devastating but it is nature at work and so we cannot interfere.”
Mr Forsyth said what is commonly called a sunbird is in fact the Olive-backed sunbird.
“Four years ago scientists discovered that the DNA from the South East Asian Olivebacked sunbirds was exactly the same as the sunbirds here and so now they go under this collective name,” he said.
“The female birds usually build the nests, which hang upside down, and the male inspects the nest throughout the building, but the male helps with the feeding of the chicks.”
Sunbirds are a well-known and loved bird in the Wet Tropics as they often build their nests on the verandas and porches of people’s homes. They seem to exploit the fact that most predatory species are nervous around humans and by building their nests close to high areas of activity in people’s homes they gain some form of protection for their young.
Sunbirds usually have two chicks with just one of them living to adulthood, sometimes they can have three chicks but this is rare. They take just 15 days to hatch and another 12 to 15 days to fledge (fly away). Three-leading twitching journalists arrived at the Red Mill House last night to study a number of birds within the Daintree for the next week and they will also be trialling a new iphone application that promises to get all birders in a flap.
Australian Ed Williams will be reporting for the Australian Birdwatch magazine, Mike Weedon from the UK will be reporting for the Birdwatch magazine UK’S edition and American Hugh Powell is from Cornell Labs and will be reporting for Orthinologies Living Bird Song.
The three highly-respected journalists among the bird-watching community will be staying in the Daintree for the next seven days to undertake their research which has also received funding through an international grant to study birds in the Douglas region.
Nesting: Olive-backed Sunbird