I have mentioned before that the nectar feeder (that I usually refer to as ‘the pub’) is not frequently used when there are plenty of natural nectar sources available – the aloes and Cape Honeysuckle are very popular during winter.
The other day, however, I came across a query about the possibility of weavers and white-eyes hogging the feeder to the exclusion of other birds. This led me to pay special attention to the use of ‘the pub’ during the last week of August. Birds which frequented it during this time include: Forktailed Drongo, Cape Weaver, Village Weaver, Black Sunbird, Cape White-eye, Greater Double-Collared Sunbird, and Blackheaded Oriole.
Collectively the weavers are a scrappy lot at the best of times, so it is not uncommon to see one chasing another off ‘the pub’, especially when a lot of them are at the feeding station at once. I was interested to note that the female Cape Weavers appeared to be more aggressive about chasing each other of the perch than the males were.
Black Sunbirds tend to make a noise as they announce their approach to the feeder; sometimes waiting their turn perched on a nearby branch and at other times darting in as soon as another bird has left the feeder. They are sometimes chased off by weavers – as are the Greater Double-collared Sunbirds. Male Black Sunbirds tend to perch, look around and then draw from the nectar feeder with intent. Females, on the other hand, make a noise, sip, and look around – repeating these actions until they have had their fill.
Cape White-eyes generally approach the feeder either mid-morning or during the latter part of the afternoon when other birds have left to find food elsewhere. I have not observed them chasing another species of bird away – their own kind, yes.
While the Forktailed Drongos do not use the feeder all that often, they do drive other birds away. Sometimes they emit what appears to be an alarm call that causes all birds, from a tiny Bronze Manikin to the much large Rock Pigeon, to flurry off to the safety of branches in nearby trees. On other occasions the drongos literally bump other birds off the perch – especially weavers. I watched three drongos chasing each other off in rapid succession the other day in order to have their turn at ‘the pub’ – none were content to wait.
I include a few pictures to show the structure of the feeder: a wooden frame with a hole in it large enough to fit a Mrs Balls Chutney bottle; a hole in the lid of the bottle has a copper u-bend soldered into it.
Depending on the weather and the availability of natural sources of nectar, we refill the bottle from once or twice a week to every ten days or so.