Olive-backed Sunbirds nesting in my garden!!

I am soooooo excited to share that the sunbirds have made a nest in our home!! In our dining room balcony on the potted Moringa Tree, two sunbirds made a delicate nest around the 7th of March when I first noticed it ! I have been watching and photographing the sunbirds nesting. I feel so lucky to be able to see the nest so close and see the developments. 1958010_10202387196653744_1241380858_n When we spotted the nest, it was almost built. The mama bird, whom I call Angel- was just putting a few final touches to the hanging nest. My mother (who wanted to help Angel as it was going to be a new mother) put a few strands of cotton on the balcony railings and Angel surprisingly took them and used them for the inner lining of the nest!SONY DSC SONY DSC For a week Angel disappeared. This is apparently a common pattern for Olive-backed sunbirds and the exact reason this happens is unknown. They probably do it to fool other predators or a cuckoo which may parasite the nest. Angel soon kept coming in and out. One day, she sat inside the nest for long periods of time, and continued to do so for weeks.  I looked inside the nest but unfortunately the eggs were too deep inside for me to see. After that Angel kept coming in and out to incubate the nest as you can see here in the picture below: SONY DSC SONY DSC Eventually the father, whom I named Sunny, also started visiting the nest, probably because the eggs had hatched. SONY DSC SONY DSC That was when I think the feeding started. Sunny and Angel continued to come to the nest to feed the chicks. It wasn’t until yesterday when I saw the chick pop its head outside, chirping very loudly and aggressively for food! SONY DSC SONY DSC I thought there was only one chick but after looking through my pictures I realised that there were two!! One of them was the bossy one who always wanted the food first from the parent and sometimes the other one wouldn’t get the meal! SONY DSC As soon as the chicks hear the mama or papa birds, they pop their heads out with their beaks open! SONY DSC SONY DSC I love just waiting and watching with my camera and tripod near the nesting, waiting to get good videos and shots of the parents feeding the chicks. SONY DSC I managed to get shots of Angel in mid air! SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC This is a front view of the nest, which I managed to take from my sister’s balcony. SONY DSC While watching the chicks feeding, I feel so grateful and amazed to be seeing this so close. It’s just jaw-dropping to see how sincere the parents are in bringing food and taking care of their young! I hope this has made you feel a little warm and fuzzy inside and made you say “awww” when you saw the little chicks. I am going to continue documenting the olive-backed sunbirds until the chicks fly away, and will do a little update. There will also be a video in the update combining all the videos I have taken of the sunbirds. Do let me know in the comments what you would like me to name the two chicks!

Lavanya Prakash

Blog- https://mynatureexperiences.wordpress.com/

Twitter- https://twitter.com/MyNatureExp

Facebook page- Mynatureexperiences

Email- mynatureexperiences(at)hotmail.com

PS:  A very kind reader, Ms Lakhera pointed out the ethics of photography of bird nesting, that it can be intrusive and disturbing to the nesting birds, so it is important to be extremely careful. Here are the links that she shared:

Why nesting pics are banned on ib 

and from the Cornell Labs Code of Conduct on How to Nestwatch 

Here’s my set up from inside the house from behind a glass door as below in the photograph, from where the sunbirds can’t really see or sense me.  The pictures are zoomed in.  I’m so conscious that the birds are not disturbed in any way.



26 thoughts on “Olive-backed Sunbirds nesting in my garden!!

    1. Thank you so much, Cuifen! Yes, it’s so amazing to see them so close. I can literally spend hours watching them 🙂 -Lavanya

  1. Your passion and care for nature is just amazing! It must be so exciting to have sunbirds nesting in your garden. This is Hannah, Shivani’s friend who lives in England 🙂 When I went to Malaysia last year in conjunction with my trip to Singapore I went on a guided birdwatch and the birds were so different to what we have here in the UK! I thought the Javan Mynas in Singapore were adorable, although you’re probably very used to them 😛 I love watching birds in my back garden, there’s a range of the small common birds like robins, dunnocks, blue tits and wrens, as well as green and great spotted woodpeckers in the spring, and occasionally I can hear tawny owls hooting nearby. Anyway I’d love to discuss nature with you one day; it would be really interesting to see the differences between wildlife halfway across the world! Shivani’s told me so much about you, and what you’ve achieved is amazing. Keep going! xx

    1. Hi Hannah! Thank you so much for checking out my blog and writing in! I would really like to see the birds there are in the UK- the wildlife and landscapes there seem to be amazing. You’re so lucky that you can see those birds in your garden! Here in Singapore you really have to go to particular spots and only then you can see owls, eagles, etc. I would love to talk to you one day too- I’m sure we’d have a lot to discuss! 😛 Thank you so much again!! 🙂

  2. Hi! I’m parthiv, 10years old , from delhi, recently we also have a sunbird nest ,in our balcony they are building a hanging nest on our clothes wire, on the first day of building the nest it looked like a hummingbird, then in the net I searched ‘which bird looks like a hummingbird’ I looked into the information and got shocked to see that it was a sunbird!

    1. Hi Parthiv, So glad to hear that you have sunbirds making a nest in your home! Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my post as well 🙂 Do take a picture of the bird.. but keep a safe distance from it and don’t touch/handle it in any way. The birds need their space! You can send me a picture of the bird and maybe I can identify it for you! My email is mynatureexperiences@hotmail.com.

  3. There is a sunbird that is full blue in color , I don’t know what its name, but what you have written is perfectly amazing

  4. Hi lavanya! I’m parthiv. The female sunbird has given the eggs! He is incubating the nest from last 15•4•15. It is really amazing , but there is a ptoblem…. A pigeon is trying to target the eggs….. So that’s why we have to watch the nest ,not the bird. The pigeon targets it when the sunbird is sitting on them too. And the surprising thing is that the blue bird is visiting the nest more than before. The female bird is going outside many times ,so we pray that it will come fast to incubate the nest.

    1. Hi Parthiv, That’s good to hear. About the pigeon, yes, you need to keep watch on the nest.. when the pigeon comes, try to scare it away or come closer to the nest so that it is scared by your presence. It won’t do anything to harm the nest, so you don’t need to worry too much. Just keep a watch on it because the eggs need to be safe! Update me when anything happens. Thanks!

  5. Hi! I am Madhavi Chitnis from Pune, India. Just read your experience. And was thrilled as I also experienced the same type of activities in my backyard just last month. Only thing I felt little sad about was that I couldn’t see the chicks flying away. Could you see them flying? How was your experience about that? A few years ago I had Bulbul chicks & I have seen them playing in my backyard & I enjoyed it thoroughly. However, this time with the Sunbird chicks I was a bit disappointed as I couldn’t see them flying, they just disappeared in a moment.

    1. Hi Madhavi! First of all, thank you so much for visiting my blog and dropping a comment! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience! I actually did not see the sunbird chicks fly away. As I mentioned in the post, one day the chicks suddenly flew away and no one in my home was aware of it, sadly! Even I felt disappointed but then I thought about it and realized how extremely lucky I was to have seen the nest and the chicks grow! So don’t be disappointed 🙂 Thanks again! Lavanya


    My experience very very sad & dun know why? The mother sunbird died in the nest yesterday with the egg inside. I just google why, but can’t find any info. It is the male bird did not come bad to find the mother bird? SAD : (
    anyone know why?

    1. Hi Zen,
      That’s very sad to hear! Was the nest in your garden? It could have died due to several reasons- perhaps it couldn’t find enough food or it died due to a disease? Did the egg hatch and did the chick come out of the nest? Did the father come back as well?
      Thanks for sharing this experience.

      1. Hi Lavanya, is in my mini garden. The eggs not yet hatch. Before this it still fly in & out in the morning & rest at night in the nest. Just saw why last 2 days did not move at all, so I check the nest. I did not saw the father after done the nest. I think the 2 eggs can’t hatch without mother. SAD!

        All lot sunbird at my garden, around 5/6. Hope can see again in the nest soon. I still keep the nest there!

  7. Hi Zen, Sorry I just saw your reply.. That is so sad… It’s so nice of you to keep the nest, yes, maybe soon the sunbirds will make another nest in your garden 🙂 Thank you for sharing this again.

  8. They are great photos – we also have sunbirds nesting at our house. They have chosen a loose wire hanging down right at the front door, and we have to dodge around the nest (still being constructed) coming in and out of the house. They have no fear of us at all, and we can walk past within 1/2metre, and they land beside us and carry on building. We feel very “honoured” to have been chosen as a site for their nest !!

    1. Thank you so much for reading my post and leaving a comment. Wow, that’s amazing to hear! Even I felt so blessed to have experienced the nesting happening, I wish they could come and nest again in our balcony. Enjoy witnessing the nesting! Thanks again! Lavanya

  9. Omg how coincidental that a pair of olive-backed birds have begun nesting in my tree, I Google about it and find myself on your amazing blog! Now I know what to expect hanging from my tree in the coming months, they are lovely little creatures and their sounds in the morning are undoubtedly uplifting. As for photography of nesting, in this particular case, the birds seem to have checked out the area before deciding.. such that they have flown up to me about 30cm away and inquisitively looked at me for about 5 minutes. I go about my business in my garden, close to them and they continue building. I wouldn’t advocate destroying any part of the nest for a photo but there is a balance of giving them them right to breed in peace and wanting to spread appreciation and knowledge about these birds and their development process (and of course fame for the photographer, unfortunately). I could go on but I’ll stop there as I truly want to thank you for taking photos of the nesting process over time. I love your work and hope to meet you again soon. 🙂
    – Thiviya (Eela’s friend that you met recently lol)

    1. Omg that is such a coincidence, wow! I’m so glad you get to experience the nesting in your garden! Yes, the olive-backed sunbirds are quite used to human presence- and that definitely shouldn’t be taken for granted by selfish photographers. Do enjoy every moment of the nesting experience as you will surely miss them when they’re gone! The sunbirds still come to my garden everyday but it’s a whole different experience seeing them nest. I’m itching for them to nest again! You can check out part 2 of this post if you want to see more pictures (https://mynatureexperiences.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/olive-backed-sunbirds-nesting-in-my-garden-updatevideo/) I hope I can meet you again too! Maybe we could go for a run + wildlife spotting together! 🙂

    1. Hi Jenny, Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my post. I actually did not see the chicks leave the nest, as I mentioned, but it probably takes a few weeks for the chick to fly away, as it leaves enough time for the parents to provide the nestlings with nutrients.

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