NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Sunbird therapy

Watching sunbirds come and go is like a wonderful soul tonic

In Summary

• There are possibly as many as 13 species of sunbirds that frequent the park

Variable sunbird
Variable sunbird
Image: GARETH JONES

After plentiful rains this year, there is an abundance of wildflowers in the park. As a result, many species actively gain nutrition from flowers, including the wonderful sunbirds. Sunbirds are incredibly created and are a pleasure for those who take time to find them and watch them.

According to the checklist of birds of Nairobi, there are possibly as many as 13 species of sunbirds that frequent the park, ranging from rarely seen to commonly seen. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar but will also eat insects and spiders to boost their protein intake, especially when feeding their young.

Flowers that prevent access to their nectar because of their shape (for example, very long and narrow flowers) are simply punctured at the base for access, then the birds sip the nectar. Their flight is fast and direct, thanks to their short wings.

 

Sometimes, it can be very rewarding to find a place where there are many flowers, and then sit quietly and wait for sunbirds to visit the flowers, like the Leonotis leonurus (lion’s head or wild dagga) that attracts nectivorous birds (mainly sunbirds), and various insects, such as butterflies. The flowers are mainly orange to orange-red colour and tubular-shaped.

Apart from being a pleasure to watch, it is also very therapeutic to watch them for some time. In this fast-paced crazy world we live in, it is good to find moments when we can escape for a while and focus on something else.

Sitting among hundreds of wildflowers and watching many sunbirds come and go is like a wonderful “power dawa” or “soul tonic” for our innermost being. I believe God created much of the beauty in nature for the joy and pleasure of mankind. Why don’t you try some sunbird therapy?