…Or maybe not!
Despite 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!