BIRD LIFE ON THE ESTATE
Over the years, as the trees and plants on the Estate matured, we have noticed an increase in the number and variety of birds. We have been recording the bird sightings and at this point we have 92 different birds on our list.
Since December 2010 we are fortunate to have a number of Blue Cranes visiting the Estate, early in the morning you can hear them calling each other. In the first few months of 2012 a breeding pair of blue cranes nested at the estate and could be seen throughout the estate with the juvenile. Blue cranes are under threat in South Africa. There are only around 25 000 blue cranes left in the country and of the remaining population, almost half are found in the Overberg in the Western Cape. As a result, South Africa’s national bird is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red Data List of Threatened Species.
To view a list of Birdlife on the estate click here.
To make it easier for non-birdie people our bird list has the following details for each bird:
● Bird name ● Old name ● Afrikaans name ● Bird family ● Robert’s number
The Cape Sugarbird is one of only six bird species considered endemic to the Cape Floral Kingdom and there are many to be seen around the Estate. They are a grey-brown bird easily recognizable by a spot of yellow under its tail and the very long tail feathers present in males are twice the length of the body. The male is 34.44 cm long, and the shorter-tailed, shorter-billed, and paler breasted female 25.29 cm long. In both sexes the under tail is bright yellow, and the top of the head is dull brown.
Cape Sugarbird’s staple diet is nectar, supplemented with spiders and insects, and it visits about 300 protea flower heads every day during autumn and winter to satisfy its energy requirements. Its long, sharp beak is used to reach the nectar of a variety of species of fynbos with its long brush-tipped tongue. Though the characteristic strong winds in the Cape make feeding off protea heads difficult, the sugarbirds' very sharp claws enable them to grip onto branches and flower heads and to continue feeding and pollinating even when strong winds force other birds to take cover in undergrowth.
Cape Sugarbirds breed February thru to August but mainly from April to May in the south-western Cape. Their nests are an untidy cup of twigs, grass roots and pine needles, lined with protea down, placed in the fork or tangled branch of a protea bush or other large leaved trees. Another characteristic of the Cape Sugarbird is the sound it makes when it flies. The main flight feathers are arranged in such a way that when the bird beats its wings, a frrt-frrt sound is made with the intention of attracting females.