Stories of Bird Breeding at our Durban home.

23 October 2021

Two years ago Red-capped Robin-Chats (previously known as Natal Robins) built a nest and produced three chicks in a wall-planter at our back door. However, the chicks disappeared one by one. Because it always happened at night, Vervet Monkeys were ruled out and the location made it unlikely to be a cat.  It seems possible that the culprit could have been one of the pestilent Norwegian Rats, which are to be found on Durban’s Berea.  They are known to rob nests and even kill smaller species of birds at night.

In spring last year the pair of Red-capped Robin-Chat this time built a nest on top of the box housing an electricity meter on our front veranda.  For some unknown reason, they abandoned the nest with an egg inside it. I left it untouched, hoping that they may return but no luck.

However, this year a pair of Familiar Chats have taken over that nest! A very sensible place for a nest, out of the rain and wind. Monkeys never visit that area and it is inaccessible to cats (but maybe not to rats).  Their chicks eventually safely reached the fledgling stage to leave the nest.

Simultaneously a pair of Hadeda Ibis are breeding in a large Mitzeeri Sweetberry (Bridelia micrantha). We have eye-level views of them from the top floor of our house. Originally there were three chicks, but one fell to his death in our driveway below the tree. As they say, two’s company, but three’s a crowd. So, was the unfortunate one pushed out by its siblings? 

The photos below, all taken at our home, convey the tale of three bird species. 

Best wishes

Charles Botha

1.      Red-capped Robin-Chat, a regular summer breeder in our garden.

2.     The breeding spot in a planter at our back door.

3.     The last chick to go, the other two have already disappeared.

4.     The site of their next nest on our front veranda the following year.

5.     The abandoned egg.

6.     Having taken over the nest, the Familiar Chat looks at us having breakfast, barely two meters away. You can see why it has the word familiar in its name!

7.     The “renovated” nest

8.     Their three chicks.

9.     Parent Familiar Chat bringing in a food item to the chicks.

10.  Fledgling, on the table, has just left the nest. Note the parent on the ledge

11.  Familiar Chat chick.

12.  Hadeda family on nest.

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