Southern Double-collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus), 23 May 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
Malachite Sunbird Male (Nectarinia famosa), 23 May 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

A respite from the demands of life comes to me in an iridescent flutter, cheeping and fleeting in the garden. There is no end to my enjoyment of the sunbirds so forgiving of my presence whatever the time of day. First is the Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) and second, the Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa). To say that I adore them is to express nothing of my love for these creatures!

Sunbirds in the Salvia

With the South African autumn in full swing, the Southern Double-Collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) is a frequent and conspicuous visitor to the garden, particularly to the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) and the Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), both now in bloom.

The latter only flowers in autumn but the former does so all year round and so the Southern Double-Collared Sunbird (and its impressive cousin, the Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa)), are always about. They dig deep into the flowers for nectar which they extract with their long, thin tongues. If you look closely at the second image, you will see a small part of it protruding from its beak.

In the third image, notice the blue and red collars from which “double-collared” in its common name is derived. Though not visible in these images, since it is not usually on display, there are also yellow tufts hidden on the male’s shoulders which he flaunts in the sunlight when looking for a mate becomes a serious pursuit.

These little birds are very forgiving of their admirer, and so I am able to photograph them up close (provided I do not make any sudden movements).

Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus), 10 April 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus), 10 April 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus), 10 April 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

The Southern Double-Collared Sunbird

With the arrival of the South African autumn, the sunbirds are more active than ever. They are “chee-cheeing” in the trees and darting about the flowering bushes in an iridescent display. Southern Double-Collared Sunbirds (Cinnyris chalybeus)—and Malachite Sunbirds (Nectarinia famosa)—are regular visitors to the garden from the nearby woods where they nest. A few days ago, I photographed a female.

She was accompanied by a male who could not quite decide what bush was to his liking, and so I was unable to photograph him on that occasion. I include, therefore, a male I photographed in April last year. I must add that in the case of the photograph of the male, there is no enhancement of the image; its feathers are as splendid as they appear—in fact, they are even more magnificent to the naked eye!

A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Female (Cinnyris chalybeus), 29 March 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Female (Cinnyris chalybeus)
A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus), 3 April 2018. Copyright 2018 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus)