Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nesting of Purple-rumped Sunbirds

There was this guest-for-a-few-days pair of Purple rumped Sunbirds at home, where it tried making its home, but then didn't fully succeed for some reason obscure to us. But however long it was around, we had been happy to host it and saw to it that we didn't much disturb, as far as possible. Here's some observation i had noted everyday.

Day 1: 5th July 2011, Tuesday

As we were leaving to office in the morning, this female Purple rumped Sunbird swiftly flew past us into the portico and perched itself on a branch of hibiscus plant. It sat there for a few more seconds and I was running late to office, but felt that it had something in its beak

Day 2:

Wow! There this sunbird was again on the same branch and now there was a lump of straw and dried leaves hanging down from the branch! It was clearly a nest in making!!

The location of nest chosen by this couple was a little strange, at least for us - it was on a walkway, where we have to walk up and down every morning and evening. And it was below the lintel (sajja) of a window, which we hardly open, but if we did, it would disturb the nest for sure. And while walking, if we just raised our hand, we’d be able to touch it, it was that low! We ruled out suggestions that we need to move up the branch and place it over the window lintel to keep it safe. I’m sure the birds are intelligent enough to choose a safe place and don’t need our assistance. Man’s intervention almost always will be more disastrous than constructive!

We observed it for a few minutes and sure it was... the female was getting raw-materials for the nest and building it up quite rapidly. The male was perched on a nearby electric wire. I was elated to see a nest coming up so close to me...

Evenings it’d generally be dark by the time I got back home and couldn’t see much of bird activity even if I reached at 6-30 or so.

Day 3:

The nest had now taken a good shape - it had a nice little opening facing the other side; it was big enough for the little lady to get inside and sit comfortably. Still she kept on getting more material, and continued making the nest stronger. Sometimes she’d get some dried leaves or straw and dump it inside and fly back soon and at other times she’d get inside, do some building, make a lot of arrangement with the stuff and then got out. At times she’d get inside and we could see that the whole branch would be shaking, as she was probably securing the nest tight!

She would not mind us walking right below her nest or watching from behind some branches from about 6-7 feet!! But if there was some activity right below, she’d wait.

Day 4:

I guess the nest was now strong enough but needed some bedding now!! Coz the lady sunbird got some soft fur like materials today. It was like some thin threads, feathers or some cottony stuff and placed them inside. I remember reading about Karthik placing some cotton nearby, and I too wanted to see if I could help her! Placed some cotton in small pieces on other branches of the same plant and waited in a corner. After some rounds, she did notice the cotton, for she went closer to it, but then she rejected it :(

She did that a couple of times, but didn’t pick up my offering, and preferred to rather get her own good material!

All this while the male just sat there watching about, but didn’t lend her a hand, err a beak?! The max he did was to escort her to the nest sometimes when there were people around.

Day 5:

We got up before the birds as we were leaving for a trekking trip.

While the Ashy Prinia was the first one to call out in the morning at 5-45am, these sun birds didn’t arrive near the nest till about an hour after that. They did continue the same behavior as the previous day; we too couldn’t spent much time observing. But the nest now had a canopy like structure just outside the opening!

Day 6:

No observation

Day 7:

They were closer to the nest, as if to keep a watch, but didn’t see them getting into it. The male was also now quite closer to the nest, as if to occasionally inspect his partner's work!

In the evening, however, I saw the female sitting inside the nest with its head peeping out slightly, much before the nightfall and it stayed there like that without much activity. Neither was the male seen around.

Day 8:

It wasn’t there the next morning, when we saw. And after some time they came, and the female got in for sometime and then went out. She wasn’t staying in continuously, but was there again at night. Made me doubt if she had laid egg or not yet. (Later I read somewhere that the female spends a couple of nights in the nest before laying eggs; so she might not have laid eggs yet)

Day 9:

The female was now sitting inside more often, even in the morning, apparently she had now laid eggs. And she didn’t seem to like our presence near, so we just left the place all to herself!

Day 10:

Same as yesterday; she didn’t mind us if we were looking at her, but didn’t like it when we went with a camera. So we just didn’t bother her too much.

We viewed her from inside the window through the glass, and she seemed to be incubating now, since she was in and out of the nest throughout the day.

Day 10-15:

The female continued to be incubating and the male would occasionally hang around. But never shared any work with his mate! She was now more relaxed even if people moved about closer to the nest. She spent every night in the nest itself. One strange observation was that as soon as she got into the nest after a meal break or so, she would enter and before settling down on the eggs, she'd shake the nest hard, similar to the nest building times when i thought she was strengthening the hang from the branch. and after a few seconds of this, she'd settle down calmly, peeping out of the little hole!

Day 16 - Black Wednesday - 20 July 2011

The End - Check here and here if you can bear to read a sad ending

Yeah... the nest had vanished one evening, very unfortunately. It is about 2 weeks and i have still not come to terms with it fully. I guess they'd have learnt a valuable lesson not to trust Humans so blindly :(

How i wish humans also learnt some small lessons of being considerate to fellow creatures.....

How i wished to present a beautiful end to this story, but it was not in my control. After much debating with myself, I made up my mind to at least share here whatever little was noted.

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