Olive-backed Sunbird building a nest

on 10th January 2011

“We were staying at Sabana Cove for the night. On our arrival in the morning, one of us spotted an Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) going about building, or I would say, about to complete the building of a nest.

“The first thing that we observed was that it was the female that was doing all the work. The male was just hanging around nearby observing the activities of the female.

“The video had been trimmed quite a lot to cut out the quiet periods of nothing going on at the nest. The periods between high activity ranges from one minute to five minutes. I guess this depends on the female bird being able to find what she considers as the correct material for the nest.

“The video captures the different actions of nest building: from the simple placing of a blade of grass onto the wall of the nest, the tidying up of loose pieces, to the bird getting into the nest and firming up the nest by pumping down the base with her legs to form the neat bowl and also to tighten the collection of
nesting materials. As for the ceiling of the nest, one can observe the bird using her head, by bumping upwards. This action was to again shape the ceiling to her requirement.

“From the outside the nest seems to be quite messy, but it was build like that for the purpose of camouflage, to make detection of the nest difficult. Also, the nest is secure to a very thin and flexible branch of the plant, and this again with the purpose of movement detection of any predator attempting to climb up close to the nest.”

K C Tsang
Sabana Cove, Johor, Malaysia
24th December 2010

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 Responses

  1. Delightful video. Well done. I would like to think the male is “watching out” for danger, but then us males …..

  2. Thanks Dato, glad you enjoyed the clip. Well, us males usually take the more dangerous role
    of being a security guard, or a soldier, when the time comes we may have to give up our lives for it.

    K C

  3. KC, your description of the activity is nicely detailed, and then watching the video is quite interesting too. I always imagined these birds would use their beaks for all the work, but it’s quite informative to see that the female did spend a lot of time using her feet (and occasionally her head) to press the materials into the desired arrangement. Thanks for great observations and compiling such an interesting video.

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