A pair of Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) built their nest attached to a wind chime along the balcony of Jean Ho’s home sometime in March 2010 (left).
What attracted her attention was the mass of blue synthetic fibres, possibly some sort of insulation material, enveloping the nesting chamber. The nesting chamber itself was made up of dried plant material – stems, roots, leaves, etc. The image above-right shows the female sunbird feeding her clutch of two chicks.
The nestlings fledged on 15 April. And just before the juvenile birds flew off, a Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) tried to attack the nest. Fortunately the adult sunbirds were around and somehow managed to drive off the attacker.
On 1st May, another pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds took up residence and the female now spends the nights in the nest. “I can’t tell if it is the same pair or another, although we feel the second pair seems less timid and the female bird stays put in the nest when we go out to look at it at night,” recounts Jean.
Birds have well-developed colour vision. So the sunbirds must be well aware of the colour of the synthetic fibres they collected. They probably made used of the fibres because they were available. However, the bright blue nest has no camouflage properties. In fact they make the nest conspicuous to predators (and these include humans). Thus the chances of a failed nesting is high. However, being in a home of a nature enthusiast like Jean, the chances of it being destroyed by humans are slim. But not so by orioles, for example.