Where the Americas have hummingbirds, the Old World has sunbirds; brightly coloured jewels that flash in the light. The males often wear showy colours which makes identification straightforward while females tend towards the dull and difficult (my non-birding, proof-reading wife has just suggested that I change that last sentence, but you know what I mean).

CPT 14Mar11Southern Double-collared Sunbird 02 (2)

Fynbos is the distinctive vegetation type of the Cape region of South Africa. It is characterised by plant communities such as Ericas, Aloes and Proteas. The Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cinnyris chalybeus, flourishes amongst the fynbos but, unlike some of its close family, is not restricted to this habitat.

CPT 22Mar13 Southern Double-collared Sunbird 02

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens in Cape Town provide a wonderful opportunity to view these stunning birds up close. Special beds are dedicated to displaying various fynbos families and there are always flowers blooming to attract the sunbirds in to feed. Like hummingbirds, they have the ability to hover, but only in short bursts and they prefer to perch while they pierce the base of a flower to feed from the nectar.

CPT 22Mar13 Southern Double-collared Sunbird 04

The Southern Double-collared Sunbird used to be known as the Lesser Double-collared Sunbird to separate it from the very similar Greater Double-collared Sunbird, but a broader red band and an extra 2 cms makes the Greater stand out. Apart from that, they are strikingly similar, even down to the metallic blue rump. If you get a view like this, check that your senses of perspective and distance are accurate.

CPT 22Mar13 Southern Double-collared Sunbird 03

They are not great singers with a non musical, scratchy song reminiscent of some of their New World counterparts.  Thank you to www.xeno-canto.org  for permission to embed this song from their collection.

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.