‘Colourful’ might be stretching it a little for readers who are expecting bright reds, greens and yellows. I nonetheless enjoy these colourful birds – or birds with interesting patterns and / colours –  that appear in my garden fairly often, although I have combed through my archives to find suitable photographs of them. I mentioned in my previous post that the Lesser-striped Swallows have left. Enjoy a close look at the bold stripes and russet head of this one perched on a telephone cable.

From lesser to greater: this is a Greater Double-collared Sunbird. Its metallic green and red are beautiful to see shining in the sun.

I try to showcase a Cape Robin-chat whenever I can for these shy birds with their pale orange throats and upper breasts along with the predominant white eyebrow (supercilium) blend in surprisingly well with their environment. I often have to home in on their songs before finding them perched on a branch.

Every year we are visited briefly by a small flock of Crowned Hoopoes combing their way through the area. Their yellow eyes and orangey-red beaks stand out for me.

The Southern Boubou is always a welcome visitor, although I tend to see more of them during the winter than in summer. The warm buff wash on its belly looks attractive to me.

I hear at least one Knysna Turaco almost daily yet do not often see them for they are well camouflaged. Their beauty is simply outstanding.



The chill of winter here is offset by the warm colours of indigenous flowers. The aloes in my garden have almost past their best blooming period.

This is a clump of aloes growing next to our driveway. The trunks in the background belong to one of the tall Erythrina caffra trees that, having lost most of their leaves, are already putting on a show of dark spikes that will soon open to reveal scarlet blossoms.

As you come down the steps leading to the kitchen door, you need to shift aside a little to make way for these cotyledons spilling over the edge. This one is being visited by a Greater Double-collared Sunbird:

Walk around the side of the house and you are met by this array of aloes edging one side of the swimming pool:

Growing in-between the aloes are the green leaves of plumbago – soon to cheer us up with their bright blue flowers. The leaves cascading down from the tree behind belong to a golden shower creeper that in time will produce pretty orange trumpets. The tree on the right is a cabbage tree (Cussonia spp.) and in the shady background are two hanging feeders containing seeds for the birds as well as a nectar feeder.


It is an icy, grey day during which winter is stamping its feet in a determined fashion to freeze out any idea of spring unfurling in the wings. What better way of beating the winter blues than focusing on red:


Greater Double-collared Sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird at nectar feeder


Crassula perfoliata

Virginia creeper


The head, throat and back of the male Greater Double-collared Sunbird are a beautiful metallic green, with a thin blue rump and a wide, bright red breast-band Although ‘collared’ features in its name, the ‘collar’  is not very pronounced. It has a long decurved bill that allows it to get nectar from tubular-shaped or drooping flowers. I am fortunate enough to see these sunbirds throughout most of the year in our garden, however they are particularly prominent during the aloe flowering season.

Another ‘collared’ bird is a more heavily built one. The Black-collared Barbet has bright red face, throat and upper breast, bordered by a broad, black collar which provides an interesting contrast with the yellowish belly. The large, heavy bill is used to great effect in excavating nest holes in trees as well as for ‘digging into’ fruit or eating insects. We see these barbets in our garden throughout the year and they regularly feed on the fruit I put out – as well as tucking into tiny pieces of meat or fish.