I frequently hear the Cape White-eyes long before dawn. Their cheerful calls are surprisingly loud, given their diminutive size when compared with weavers, doves and starlings. They are very sociable birds, often seen in flocks as they glean leaves for tiny insects, such as aphids. This morning I watched a pair of them hanging upside down below the bird bath to reach elusive morsels that were invisible to me. They regularly visit the feeding station to tuck into the fruit and to drink from the sugar-water feeder. Cape White-eyes always seem to be ‘on the go’, either feeding or bathing – they love garden sprayers, although we have not been able to use one for years because of the drought.
A recent strong wind dislodged a Cape White-eye nest from the thick hedge outside our garage. Their tiny cup-shaped nests are usually well concealed in the foliage anything from 1 to 6 meters above the ground. I was intrigued for I have never actually spotted them nesting and so was interested in its construction.
As you can see, it is a small cup made of lichens, dry grass, rootlets, tendrils and other dry plant fibres, bound together with spider webs. I notice two white plastic strips from the bags I get the grain in – snippets of these sometimes get into the coarse seed I sprinkle on the lawn. This nest feels spongy and springy as most of it seems to consist of lichen.
The nest is built by both sexes and both parents incubate the clutch of two to four eggs for 10 to 14 days. As both sexes look alike, I have assumed that they both feed the chicks – having seen a pair of them doing so at the feeding station. This is the underneath of the nest – there is no indication of how the nest is attached to the branches.
Footnote: The Red-eyed Dove appears to have abandoned its flimsy nest in the fig tree.