Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion

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My son lives in Bela-Bela in Lim­popo and re­cently dis­cov­ered this pair of sun­birds that had made a nest in a mop that was hang­ing in a wash­ing line in his court­yard. ANDRIES NORVAL, Sand­ton

Bird ex­pert FAANSIE PEA­COCK says: These are white-bel­lied sun­birds, com­mon in sev­eral re­gions in South Africa. They like to build their nests in un­usual places like around wash­ing lines, in pot plants and un­der awnings. In this case it looks like the birds made a smart choice: Their nest is al­most in­vis­i­ble and the two chicks seem to be thriv­ing. It takes the fe­male sun­bird 5 – 8 days to build the nest, us­ing dry grass, leaves and other coarse plant ma­te­rial, which is bound to­gether us­ing spi­der­webs. De­pend­ing on the species, other build­ing ma­te­ri­als are also used, in­clud­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als like snake skin, tree bark, lichen, seeds, wool, hair and feath­ers. (I’ve found up to 380 feath­ers in one nest!) Man­made things like sponge, car­pet, twine and pa­per are also some­times used. In na­ture, white-bel­lied sun­birds usu­ally breed about 20 cm to 3 m above ground, in a shrub or small tree. Prickly pear and Queen of the Night trees are pop­u­lar. Sun­birds some­times weave their nests into the nest of a big spi­der, or they’ll build their nest next to a wasp’s nest for ex­tra pro­tec­tion.

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