Location, location, location
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.