I often mention the large Natal Fig (Ficus natalensis) that grows in our garden, but have failed to mention the much smaller Cape Fig (Ficus sur) or Broom-cluster Fig. The sur part of the name comes from an area in Ethiopia named Sur. The fruit of the Cape Fig is a draw-card for a variety of birds such as Olive Thrushes, Cape White-eyes, African Green Pigeons, Redwinged Starlings, Streakyheaded Seedeeaters, Blackcollared Barbets and Speckled Mousebirds.
This tree, though not as tall as one might expect, produces a prolific number of figs from about September to March. They appear in large clusters low down on the trunk and even at ground level.
The plump figs are often carried some distances by Redwinged Starlings. Cape White-eyes, Speckled Mousebirds and others tend to feed on or under the tree, for there is always plenty of fruit on the ground.
Fruit bats are particularly fond of the figs too and we often hear their ‘pings’ in the evenings – though have yet to find where they roost during the day – as they gather to feed greedily on the sweet bounty. We have found evidence of several ‘feeding stations’ where the bats leave their seed-laden droppings. This is one of them, next to our swimming pool.
Postscript: We have discovered that Bryan, the Angulate Tortoise, also enjoys munching the figs!