Hanging out stockings for Santa

…Or maybe not!

sunbird-nestDespite its vague resemblance to a rather weary old stocking, this is no sock. It’s the nest of the Olive Backed Sunbird, a.k.a. the Yellow Bellied or Yellow Breasted Sunbird, a little beauty which perches or hovers to drink nectar from the wide range of flowers which are in bloom at this time of year.

The bird is very small, perhaps only 10cm (4 inches) from the tip of the curved bill to the tip of the tail, and this nest is a good 40cm (16 inches) long. It has appeared over the course of three days, so the Mrs, who is the builder of the family, has been a busy girl. The opening is that dark patch at the top, and the interior of the nest is lined with feathers and fluff. It’s actually quite an airy, open structure, which she weaves together on the foundation of a couple of long strands of grass hung from the suspension point. In this case, it’s dangling from a string of fairy lights just 15cm (6 inches) from the screen door onto my side porch, which means that I’m trying to deflect visitors round to the back of the house instead.

They have cleverly built their home directly opposite a convenient Sunbird snack-bar in the form of my double yellow Hibiscus bush, round the corner there are a couple of Murrayas in bloom, the Flame Tree is showing off its red Christmas bells not far away, and of course the Poinciana is in riotous colour. Their normal habit is to build the nest, go off on honeymoon for a few days, and then come back and lay the eggs. Currently, they’re honeymooning somewhere, but I expect them back any day now, the squeaky little darlings. They sound a little like twittering canaries, a nice change from the other, noisier bird visitors to this back yard.

Let’s hope Santa doesn’t try to stuff anything in this stocking in two days’ time!


36 thoughts on “Hanging out stockings for Santa

  1. jmcheney says:

    How festive! I love reading about Christmastime in your world-away backyard. For some years long ago I lived in South Florida USA & I had a double yellow hibiscus & a double peach as well. What riches & wealth I had then! And every Christmas there came for their holidays (not to nest) the Painted & the Indigo Buntings (fabulously colorful members of the Finch Family) the to sit right outside our kitchen table window & dine on seeds in the half coconut feeders. What avian visions while we dined! How lucky were we?
    Today, farther North in Western North Carolina, a few days before Christmas, my feeders are visited by cardinals, blue jays & crows, & a brown thrasher, & a high hunting hawk circles the garden in search of its Christmas sparrow feast. I hope they are hiding in the bamboo. Merry Christmas to you all Down There!

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh, we know and love our exotic finches Down Under: the Gouldian Finch, the Zebra Finch and the Estrildid Finch, to name but three. My back yard isn’t particularly well populated by bird species, but I do love to watch the little things who dare to come a bit closer… Have a great Christmas yourself, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

  2. anne54 says:

    That’s a magnificent nest. What a clever little thing to have made it. And with your Christmas lights she has ready-made decorations!

  3. kathyreeves says:

    Hope we get to see Mr and Mrs eventually! Love hearing about you backyard, Kate!

  4. The Mrs has to build the nest as well as do almost everything else? This is not a fair division of labour!

  5. Jen says:

    Oh that is just fantastic! It’s the first thing to make me smile in days! Xxxx

  6. tialys says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next! Keep us posted.

  7. Now that’s my sort of stocking!

  8. Kate – I wish you and your little feathered family as well a very happy peaceful and safe Christmas.

  9. dayphoto says:

    Now THAT was cool! I’ve never seen a nest like that before so seeing one now is neat!


  10. So much merriment. Wishing you more of the same.

  11. Lynda says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Kate! Merry Christmas and please share more pictures when those babies hatch and take flight. 🙂

  12. What a gorgeous nest! Though it is a bit of an inconvenience to divert guests, I must say what a treat to have a new family nesting so close to your front door. I hope you can capture photos of the Mrs. Delightful!

  13. I read this yesterday but did not get a chance to comment. Christmas Eve of course and seeing my friend Alys here brought so many things around. I love the nest! I’ve never seen anything like it. How exciting for you. The only nests I get close to the house are wasps.:( I’m looking forward to more photos to follow. Hope your Christmas was a happy one and thank you so much for the follow. I write so rarely these days but that may change a bit after the first of the year. Now that it’s past 5 a.m., it’s time to put the turkey in the oven and start that slow roast.

    • katechiconi says:

      I hope your Christmas has been lovely! It’s the next day already Down Under and promises another day of warmth and beautiful sunshine – and no cooking, I have leftovers galore! Mrs Sunbird is sitting in her gently swinging nest, and I think egg production is under way. I’ll see what I can do about more photos – if they let me 🙂

      • I’m not usually fond of very warm weather but right now I envy you. You get to watch birds nest and new babies arrive. How wondrous is that? I have one more group of family coming tomorrow for a late Christmas. Not so much cooking as there are still some leftovers. Maybe you can wear a bush so they don’t know it’s you with a camera? 🙂

      • katechiconi says:

        That would certainly get the neighbours talking! Mrs Sunbird has now moved in and every so often you can see her little curved beak sticking out of the hole, and the nest swings a little when there’s no breeze. Not long now till she sits tight on her pair of eggs…

  14. Debbierose says:

    Industrious Mrs Sunbird, cleverly building her adobe with mood lighting

  15. […] backdoor. Kate had the delightful task of keeping the nest, bird and eggs safe. You may remember her blog posts about it, where you can also see a photo. It is an amazing creation, especially to be made by such […]

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