What caused two nesting failures on the same plant?

posted in: Nesting-failed, Sunbirds | 4


Lam Chun See lives in a house popular with nesting birds. In late June 2007 a pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) visited his place and decided to set up home in his balcony. After a few days of hard work, before their home was even completed, the pair mysteriously left, leaving a mess of leaves, twigs, moss and other stuff on his balcony floor. As he wrote in his blog, “I don’t know what caused them to abandon their project. I don’t think it was lack of resources. Maybe they didn’t like my hardworking maid disrupting their project every morning when she cleaned the balcony. Or they were upset with my intrusion into their privacy when I mounted my camera on a tripod just a few feet from their nuptial bed. In any case, my family was quite disappointed at this rejection.”


“Before long, another pair of birds came looking for a home. This time it was a female sunbird. And she started building her nest on the very same bromeliad plant that the bulbuls did (above).

“Again, after the nest was completed, the sunbirds also left without moving in to their new home (left).”

It is possible that the bulbul’s nest was raided by some bird or other. The clue is the mess of nest materials lying on the ground. As for the sunbird’s nest, it has to be another raid, this time not destroying the nest. Or can it be that the bird was building a trial nest?

Anyone with other possibilities?

On 16th July 2007, Chun See wrote:
“I was mistaken when I said that the sunbirds (Yes, there are two of them. The other one has blue colour) have deserted their nest. They do come and stay in the nest occasionally, but it is very difficult to photograph them because the entrance to the nest is very small. Unlike the usual bowl-shaped nest, this one has just a tiny hole. Also, the entrance is facing away from our house, and because the balcony is narrow, there is no way to go around to photograph them without disturbing the bird(s).”

Lam Chun See
July 2007

4 Responses

  1. Lam Chun See

    YC. Thanks for putting up my story. Readers will be glad to know that the female spends a lot of time in the nest; which means there are probably eggs inside. I have managed to take some photos of it with its beak sticking out of the nest and will share with you shortly.

    But I am very worried that the nest will drop off the bromeliad as it seems to be just hanging quite precariously. Furthermore there’s ocassional strong wind blowing and the bromeliad is itself hung from a ceiling lamp, and hence sways quite a bit. I remember reading an earlier story here of a collapsed sunbird nest built in some money plant in one of your readers’ balcony.

    I have a question about the yellow-vented bulbuls. You wrote in the previous article that their nest tend to be the open type. Then how come they tried to build it on the bottom of our bromeliad, which has nothing to support the nest.

  2. Lam Chun See

    You are right. I just checked with my son and he said they were sunbirds. I don’t know how I could have made the mistake becos the yellow-vented bulbuls have previously made a nest in our garden. The earlier photos can be seen:

    here, and

  3. Susan

    Need help or advice please. One of 2 sunbirds at the backyard just died. It fell off from the nest 3 days ago(nest located at my backyard & I have since laid thick bedsheets to cushion the chicks subsequent falls).I have carefully put it back in the nest whenever it fell off the nest in the last 3 days (not sure if it was pushed out from the nest by the other chick or?) Yesterday morning, it was still chirping when I returned it to its nest. 3 hours later, I went to check on the chicks and it apparently fell off the nest again and laid there motionless, dead 🙁 Not sure if it had injured itself during the 1st fall or too hungry? Now, the nest is left with 1 chick. Occassionally, the mother bird will return (but not this morning). Now I am worried that the other chick may not survive. I have already laid thick bedsheet on the tiled floor to cushion the fall. What else do I need to do? Tried feeding the chick yesterdaywith tiny worm and tiny slice of orange but it refuses to eat. What can I do? Please advice.

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