Our friends at BirdLife Port Natal have made us a list of birds you may see in your garden and around the Upper Highway. Some of them are resident at Cotswold Downs Estate too, so keep an eye out for them at Indigenous Open Gardens.
1. Crowned Eagle
Carnivore, they help to control the monkey population, there’s a nest in the forest at Cotswold Downs.
2. Bronze mannikin
Granivore = seed-eater; like humans they prefer their food fresh so clumps of indigenous grasses will be a magnet; watch them sway on the grass stems or trying to pile yet another individual on an already over-full tree branch, not to mention the splashing that goes on during a communal bathing session.
3. Purple-crested Turaco
A forest bird and frugivore = loves smallish fruits (of course figs are a favourite of most birds – fruit-eaters for the fruits, insectivores for the insects attracted to the ripening figs); known for its loud kôk-kôk-kôk call; but a real skelm that watches and teases the bird watcher while making sure it remains out of sight.
4. Green Wood-hoopoe
Insectivore, especially larvae; nests in cavities in dead branches; lives in groups; monogamous but the extended family and friends raise the young; and they can kick up a lot of noise, hence the Zulu name of iNhlekabafazi = “the cackle of old women” (very sexist and ageist).
5. Green Twin-spot
Granivore; must be one of the most lovely little birds in parts of KZN; male has a red face and female yellow; more common in Highway area than central or southern Durban.
6. Dark-capped Bulbul
Fruits and insects, common and thus often disregarded, but one of the first birds to rise and last to go to bed, and very alert – if you hear them giving a warning call you can check it out, there is a cat or other threat nearby – soon other birds will come to see and help raise the alarm – then all the bird watcher needs to do is list all the birds that have been called to action by the bulbul. Take care – SA has three species of bulbul, so if you travel to other parts of the country check the eye colour to ensure which species it is; Dark-capped Bulbul only occurs in the eastern and northern parts of SA.
7. Crested Barbet
Omnivorous; the explosion in the Plascon factory; known for its long krrrrrrr call; monogamous; nests in hole in tree, nest excavated by male and female, female incubates eggs at night but during the day male and female take turns in the nest.
8. Black Crake
Earthworms, crustaceans, small fish, plant matter – anything wet and slippery really; black is the new black with some tasteful splashes of colour; habitat is the reeds and vegetation around dams and pans, ask the volunteers at the BLPN stand at CD to try and show one to you.
9. Red-capped Robin-chat
Insectivore – beetles, ants, moths; always lower down in the vegetation or on forest floor scratching for insects; serenades his lady with an amazing variety of calls and songs – mimics other birds, the telephone, car alarm or your neighbour whistling.
10. African Paradise Flycatcher
Insectivore; during breeding season male has a long flashy tail while female always has short tail; forest birds; makes a beautiful, tiny, cup nest using cobweb to bind nest material and decorate / camouflage it with lichen; monogamous, share nest-building, incubation and chick-raising duties.
11. Spotted Eagle-owl
Carnivore, helps control rats and mice, but also insects and birds; roosts in big trees during the day until a bulbul finds it, calls all the other birds and they kick up such a fuss that it has to move elsewhere for some peace and quiet; gorgeous deep hooting call.
12. White-bellied Sunbird
Nectarivore; loves the sweet things in life and has the bill to get at it the right and proper way; pays back the plant through serving as pollinator – not like some birds one could mention that sneaks in by making a hole in the bottom of the flower to get at the nectar without paying – crime is everywhere.
13. Diderick’s Cuckoo
Insectivore, mainly caterpillars; comes to SA in summer to breed here; calls dee-dee-dee-diderick; they have their fun, then the lady dumps the result in some other bird’s nest and leaves this poor (usually smaller) bird to raise their big, fast-growing and forever hungry chick – injustice is also everywhere.
14. Village Weaver
Insects, seeds, and nectar (remember the sunbird?); most often seen fighting off other males for the prime real estate in a tree and building a nest to impress a female; amazing artistry in collecting long strings of leaves and weaving it expertly (take the time to watch them), from scratch, into a safe, dry and cozy nest, although the ladies are VERY particular; often the victim of the unscrupulous Diderick’s Cuckoo.
15. Woolly-necked Stork
Carnivore (frogs, lizards, large insects), a bird that is becoming more common in Durban gardens; but unknown to many it is a Red Data species (near-threatened status according to IUCN).
Thanks to BLPN for taking the time to put together this list for us.