Saturday, July 04, 2009

Return of the Sun Birds

Last year I blogged about how a pair of sun birds built a nest in our balcony and raised two chicks (here, here and here). Well they are back again; or rather, I should say, they were back again.

This time around they built their nest in a very awkward location which was only inches away from our 2nd floor study room window. The only way to photograph them, was to go right up to the window; but the short distance would frighten them away. Alternatively, I had to photograph them with a zoom lens from my garden.

Anyway, I managed to take some photos of the couple building their nest; and I would like to share them with you here.

1) These are shots of the nest taken from my garden. As you can see, the nest is very near the window, but at an awkward angle. Photo no. 1 shows the as yet incomplete nest.

2) These shots were taken at close range. I managed to hide behind the curtain without their noticing. However the sound of the camera shutter did frighten them away initially.

At first, I wasn’t sure if they were still in the process of building the nest or had already laid the eggs. With the opening of the nest facing outwards, there was no way to peek in and check. But from this series of photos you can see them bringing in the material to build the nest. Do you see the leaf in the bird’s beak?

The female actually poked her head into the nest and (presumably) arranged the materials. Then she did something really interesting. She climbed into the nest and sat inside with her head sticking out of the opening and wriggled briefly. I think she was testing the nest which will be her home for the next few days.

With these shots, I suspect I might have achieved something very few amateur photographers had done. I have photographed these lovely creatures from a distance of less than two feet away.

And then tragedy struck

One morning, our maid who was cleaning our study room decided that the nest was dirtying the place and so she removed it and chucked it away. When I told her what I had been trying to do, she tried to hang it back but the birds never returned. Now I am experiencing the empty nest syndrome all over again :(


JollyGreenP said...

Even better photos than last years set. The last two years I have a blackbird set up a nest in one of my fuchsia plant pots I have hanging on the wall. The pot is obviously of just the right size for nest building. I think the female going intothe nest and wriggling around is part of the process of building the nest and facilitates getting the bottom of the nest nicely rounded. I saw the blackbird doind the same thing. Although eggs were laid each year we never saw any of the chicks fledge. There are a number of magpies in the area and I think they have been eaten by the magpies.

peter said...

I found a nest after I chopped a tree in my garden. Then I saw something that could move. I used my fingers to poke and suddenly a big thing flew across my face. At first I wanted to destroy the nest but my maid told me not to. She said a nest = good luck for the dwellers. So I left it there until mother birds and 2 baby birds decided it was time to fly away.

Funny thing: I used camera flash but the babies and mother bird not scared.
Looks like your maid "not same same" with my maid.

Victor said...

Chun See, how come your camera has shutter sound? Still using an antique film SLR? If it is a modern DSLR, you can switch the shutter sound off.

Sorry, I know more about cameras than birds unless they are of this kind. So there you have my comment.

Lam Chun See said...

Victor. You have just exposed my ignorance. Anyway the blame goes to my teacher :)

yg said...

these pics are as good as those taken by members of the besgroup (beautiful birds). chun see must have used his son's camera to produce such professional shots.

Lam Chun See said...

I just anyhow set the aperture etc and shoot. If the nest had not been destroyed, I would be able to show you much better photos becos my friend was very keen to come over and shoot the birds. He is quite a camera buff and has taken some very nice photos of our canivorous plants. I should show you the close-up photos of the sun dews one day.

Zen said...

We used to say that the swallows return home. In this instant it means that the sun birds must have treated chun see's dwelling as a cosy home. After being chased out by the maid, I wonder whether these sensitive birds are brave enough to return.

PChew said...

I have seen sun birds nesting and raising chicks at my nephew's garden and also at my daugther's condo airwell where she has a few bamboo trees. I was told the birds returned to nest again and again.

Lam Chun See said...

PChew. I read in the BES Group site that these Olive Back Sunbirds like to nest near human activity to deter the predators; ususally larger birds. I heard they even build nests in HDB block corridors.

Actually photographing these birds is quite thrilling. But you need patience. You have to aim the camera at the exact spot and wait. With DSLR camera you must look with one eye thro the view finder and so can be quite tiring. And when they appear, its just for a few seconds.

Victor said...

Ahh... there's always a technological solution to your problem.

PChew said...

Thanks for the tips. If I see the sun birds nesting again at my daughter's condo, I shall take a few pictures.

alex said...

I encountered one of the most unlikely place for sun-birds to build a nest, it was a big and tall potted plant in a hotel along Orchard Road, the plant was by the hotel's swimming pool. It could be true that they do like to live alongside the busy human traffic.

Pat said...

Someone mentioned to me about sun birds so I googled the image and found your blog.
May not have much more in common than our age BUT sure do love your "sun birds".
Wonder if they're seasonal like our hummingbirds.
Great pics.