It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the death of my sunbird chicks. As mentioned previously, the sunbird’s nest is located at quite an inaccessable part of the house and we hadn’t bother paying much attention to it, except for Mike. He would spend the whole weekend sitting by the window, with his camera trained on the nest.
Last weekend (16 and 17 May 2009), there were many activities, as both parents kept Mike busy with their constant feeding. We were amazed at how fast the chicks had grown. Mike were initially afraid that the babies would fly off without his knowledge, and so he would peek at them every morning before leaving for work.
Yesterday, Mike woke up early, intending to take some more photographs. He was puzzled by the behaviours of the birds. Although the parents came back frequently to the nest, the chicks did not pop their faces out of the nest. His uneasiness was confirmed when he saw mother bird pulling the corpse of one chick out.
We do not know what had happened. The chicks were almost ready to flee the coop, as can be seen by the feathers. The parents must be heartbroken, for there they perched on a nearby tree, looking dejectedly towards the nest.
We had witnessed how hard the parents worked at raising their chicks, taking turns hunting for insects, spiders and lizards, returning every twenty minutes to feed the twins. To see it all end like this is very sad.
I remember in one episode of Oprah, she showed a scene from the DVD, Planet Earth. In it, the producers were tracking the growth of a family of leopard cubs, and it showed the mother hunting a calf for its young. The poor calf was running for its life, but it was obvious that its effort was futile. At the end of the show, Oprah remarked that it was difficult watching the scene, as she did not know who to root for. On one hand, she wanted the calf to run faster, and not be captured by the leopard. On the other hand, she knew the leopard needed the calf or her cubs would die. The producer then gave an advise that I can still remember. We humans are just observers of nature, and should not interfere.
This also reminded me of a story I read in the internet, about how someone tried to help a butterfly break free of its struggle from its chrysalis, only to discover a butterfly with deformed wings, not knowing that a butterfly needed that struggle to strengthen and stretch its wings.
In a way, observing the birds nesting in my garden gave us a better perspective of how much stronger the birds are than we humans. The father bird has a shared responsibility in raising the chicks with the mother, which is much more than what some human fathers do. It’s amazing to see the pair together, especially when the male and female are easily distinguishable, and wonder if they really do pair for life.
A perfect couple, my sunbirds.