In South Africa, at least 73 bird species in 24 families have been recorded feeding on 14 Aloe species and 8 other flowering plants and trees, but this old list is far from exhaustive. Occasional nectar-feeding is very common and perhaps 1,600 bird species worldwide (nearly 1 in 6) feed on nectar to one degree or another. In southern Africa, many Aloe species flower during the dry winter season and offers copious dilute nectar to a variety of birds. Overall bird abundance can increase 2–3 fold at the peak of nectar availability. Nearly 50% of all birds recorded in Suikerbosrand were observed feeding on Aloe marlothii nectar. Only two species of sunbird were observed feeding on A. marlothii nectar, and both occurred in low abundance. This is because Aloes are one of the species of flower that rely on generalist nectarivores for pollination, which prefer glucose and fructose type sugars, while plants that rely on specialist nectarivores for pollination produce sucrose.
A Malachite Sunbird appeared very territorial, spending a lot of time chasing away a female Greater Double-collared Sunbird. The male of the later species spent more time defending a patch of Tecoma capensis, perhaps not wishing to pick a fight with the green goblin. While activity seemed intense in the morning – I could not stick around to take photos as I was conducting a survey up Meiringspoort. Undoubtedly a dedicated photographer with more time at this spot will come up with even more species and better photos!
|Male Cape Weaver|
|Cape Bunting, foraging on the ground around the Aloes|
|Male Cape House Sparrow - guarding his nest|
|Female Cape Weaver - not the apricot colored head from the Aloe pollen|
|Greater Double-collared Sunbird|
|Not at the Aloes - Victorin's Warbler from the Kammanassie|
|Red-billed Quelea (I think!)|
|Venus and Pleides over the Kammanassie by moonlight|