Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Critters with Eileen

I'm posting about a subject very close to my heart:

Birding is great fun and birding is relaxing. However, birding is not about the birder!

Not? ask...

No, birding is about the birds. We bird-watch for our own entertainment and - in my case - therapeutic relaxation on the mine. So while I look out for birds and especially birds doing special things (like building nests or taking food to their young) I am very careful not to disturb nature in any way.

A case in point is the pair of Red-eyed Bulbuls we watched while at home in South Africa. They'd built their nest in an old rose bush next to our entertainment area. Two weeks ago Grant told me he'd noticed that a bulbul flew into the middle of the bush and on closer [careful] inspection, he noticed it sitting on a nest. Later when the bird flew out again, I placed a garden chair near the bush, climbed on it and took a peek from the top. Sure enough, there were two speckled eggs in the nest! 

Red-eyed Bulbul Eggs in Nest (Image: Google)

Every day for the next two weeks we watched from a safe distance, (inside the house) how the pair of bulbul took turns at sitting on the eggs. We only realized this when we saw one bulbul sitting on a tree branch nearby and at the same time, we  could see the tail of the other wagging slightly between the thorns as it got comfortable on the nest. We were careful not to make sudden movements near the window  as birds are easily spooked by shadows on the glass.  If we were up early in the morning, we'd see both bulbuls on top of the security lights above our garages. They'd have a breakfast of dead insects and then one flew into the rosebush while the other took up its vigil in the tree above. 
 One of the Red-eyed Bulbul pair taking up its vigil in a tree near the rosebush while the other sits on the nest

Of course, during the day we'd forget that there were birds nesting nearby but come early evening, we'd be reminded again when was a bustle around the rosebush. One bulbul would issue its strident call, and then swoop into the thicket of the rosebush. The other would fly out and we knew that nest duties swop had taken place. 

Last Sunday as we sat in the entertainment lounge, we noticed one bird fly down from the garage roof with an insect in its mouth; it entered the rosebush. As I crept closer to the window, I saw the faint outline of a beak pointing upwards towards the parent bird feeding it! 

On my last day at home, I wanted to take a look at the baby birds. John, my gardener told me the parent had just flown out of the nest, so I took a garden chair and placed it near the rosebush. 

Too late! 
 The bulbul was alarmed at presence of a strange object (a garden chair which I'd placed there) under the rosebush

Before I could climb, camera at the ready,  onto the chair, one of the bulbuls arrived and landed on top of the rosebush. It showed its alarm at the "strange" object near /below its nest. Birds notice when something is there which hadn't been there before.
Although I was standing quite a distance away on the patio, I sensed that the bird wasn't at ease. I took a few photos and then when it flew off again, I crept forward and removed the garden chair. I'd decided that it was more important to leave the nest (and area) in peace than it was to get a photo of the baby birds. 

At last count, the parents had fortunately forgotten that there had been a strange object near the rosebush; they were happily flying in and out of the rosebush tending to their babies again. 

So although it's great fun and very interesting to bird watch, it's also very important not to cause them any distress while doing this. 

I'm linking my post to Eileen's Saturday Critters here


  1. JO, how cool to have these cute birds nesting in your yard. I am sure they are very protective of the nest and the babies. Thanks for sharing the story and for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

  2. Wonderful view of bird.
    This bird has amazing eyes.
    Greetings :)

  3. How interesting to be able to watch the birds at their nest. Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Great shots of the attentive parent.

  5. what beautiful and striking birds!

  6. Lovely birds and great shots for the day, Jo! Hope you're enjoying a wonderful weekend!!

  7. Yes, as hard as it is, it's best to leave the nest alone. The only birds here that will allow us to look in their nest are the Bluebirds. They are not quite as scared of us as most birds... Oh how I love my Baby Blues!!!!

    Gorgeous shots of the Red-eyed Bulbul...

  8. Cool looking bird, love the eyes!

  9. Hello Jo
    I'm writing from Brazil and loved your blog for the first time I saw it! I'm biologist and have taken care of nature since childhood. I remember when I was a teenager my dream was live in Africa....So, definitely I'll come back here more often!



  10. Very nice information and beautiful pictures.

  11. Hi Jo and your trusty assistant the garden chair! I loved this post, your care for the nesting birds and the wonderful photos.
    Wren x


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo