Little Visitors


These tiny birds have given me days of viewing pleasure by busying about the garden, and I don’t think any description of the nature here would be complete without mentioning these little fellows.

Meet the sunbirds. The individuals I had seen most frequently are (I presume, for I’m not too knowledgable about local wildlife) olive-backed sunbirds, the most common on the island. Every time I spy a brown flash going by my window, or catch their distinctive chirruping cries, I’d creep up–none too quickly, lest I scare them off–to the windowpanes and press my nose against the glass just to watch them. They usually flock to the torch ginger grove along the side of the yard to refuel from the pale pink blossoms, or sometimes they will perch for a breather on the metal wires from which the aerophytes are suspended, and even at rest they never seem to stop moving as they bob their heads and preen and jerk their wings. Occassionally there’ll be a male astride the top of the wire fence above the garden wall, puffing out his glossy deep blue chest to stake his claim to the turf. There are days where I even see several of them together, hopping playfully between branches on the tree at the back of the house or having a silent tussle over their rights to the land.

I find it interesting even how in the muggy drowsy heat that envelops this island at mid-day they are still active, flitting from flower to flower with gusto in their insatiable quest for nectar. They even construct their pendulous nests in the most conspicuous of locations–I had seen a couple suspended from ceiling lights and potted plants next to my school’s board room. I’d been told it was because they like being near human habitation, which I feel is remarkable seeing how they might be putting themselves in harm’s way from some people who would cut their nests away without a second thought. These birds have a lot of pluck, and it’s easy to see why they have managed to adapt so easily to the altered landscapes in Singapore’s urban jungle.

One day I’d love to see a couple make their homes where I stay, but until then I’ll continue to snatch moments from entertainment by seeing them add their colours to the garden and play out the brief drama of their lives.



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