The orange-breasted sunbirds of the Fynbos Biome

Posted on 11 September 2012

The Fynbos Biome (also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom) forms part as one of six floral kingdoms in the world. It is also well known for its unique diversity of bird species (read more: birds of the Cape Floral Kingdom). One of the many unique species associated with the fynbos is the orange-breasted sunbird which is endemic to the Fynbos Biome and is a bird that has captured my attention for the last year.

The orange-breasted sunbirds of the Fynbos Biome

Male orange-breasted sunbird

Living in Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape means that I have the fynbos right on my doorstep giving me unlimited opportunities to go out and experience nature almost on daily basis. One of my favourite locations is Robberg Nature Reserve.

As a keen birder I love nothing better than to show the curious passerby the bird I am looking at, and this often happens when I am trying to get a photo of a bird. I can still remember showing a couple their first orange-breasted sunbird, even though they are frequent hikers on the reserve.

The orange-breasted sunbirds of the Fynbos Biome

Young orange-breasted sunbird with noticeable gape.

Winter time is when the orange-breasted sunbirds start nesting meaning that there would be a certain amount of activity if you know what you are looking for. I can still remember the day I headed out to Robberg Nature Reserve in the hope of getting a decent photo of a male orange-breasted sunbird (read more: sunbirds, jewel of the avian world). While walking I spotted a female orange-breasted sunbird perched on top of an Erica with an insect in her bill. Knowing that this was the nesting time I stood still and waited to see where she would go. Eventually I spotted her down in the centre of a small bush and I watched the insect disappear into one of the two gaping mouths.

The orange-breasted sunbirds of the Fynbos Biome

A female orange-breasted sunbird feeds her hungry chicks

Something you should always take note is to give the bird the benefit of the doubt, and to give the bird enough space and respect it. Treat it as if you are approaching a buffalo. Nearly four weeks later while driving to the parking lot of Robberg Nature Reserve I spotted a male orange-breasted sunbird sitting on a bitou right next to the road. After parking my car I quickly made my way to where I had last seen the bird. Luck was on my side and I was fortunate enough to see the Male, a female and what looked like juvenile sunbird with the orange gape coming from the bill.

The orange-breasted sunbirds of the Fynbos Biome

A female orange-breasted sunbird with fresh food for her chicks


Nature often presents you with something amazing big or small, you just need to know what you are looking for.

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