Wednesday, 1 February 2012

**UPDATED** Unusual Cape White-eye behaviour

by Andy Ruffle

Earlier this month, I received an email from Shelly Lawrie in Umkomaas, asking me to identify a small bird that had been thrilling the children in her son's creche.
Shelly submitted the following article which was subsequently published in the Rising Sun newspaper's 17-24th January edition.

‘’Cape White-eye visits creche

Children at the Dawn to Dusk crèche in Saiccor Village were thrilled and amazed with a rare little feathery visitor last Tuesday.
A little Cape White-eye had flown into the crèche at home time and hopped around happily despite the shrieks of laughter from the children.
It pecked at little toes and fingers and a few of the children were fortunate to have the little green bird perch on their hand, lap or foot before flying out of the crèche only to return and happily hop around again.
It was thought the bird might have been hand reared as it didn’t seem too perturbed by humans, had a fancy for biscuit crumbs and even enjoyed a back stroke or two.
“This is very unusual behaviour for these birds which are not normally associated with habituation. They are insectivorous, eating mainly insects, supplemented with nectar and fruit.
It's extremely unlikely that this bird was hand-reared, so it is intriguing as to why it has taken to this behaviour. Also, they usually forage in small flocks, rarely alone,” said Andy Ruffle, chairman of Birdlife Trogons Bird Club.
The little Cape White-eye was taken to a garden full of birdlife in Ilfracombe and within minutes it had found a friend, another Cape White-eye.
Birdlife Trogons Bird Club is a non-profit organisation affiliated to Birdlife South Africa. Its catchment area is between Scottburgh and Port Edward.
For more information on the club contact chairman, Andy Ruffle on 039-695-0829 or Birdlife Trogons website’’

Shelly's son Osric with the little visitor
(Photo Shelly Lawrie)

Other children at the creche
 also enjoying the little visitor
(Photo Shelly Lawrie)

But the story doesn't end there. Yesterday evening (18th Jan) I received a phonecall from Francois Ras also from Umkomaas. This is what he had to say...

''On Saturday afternoon I was on the Bluff helping a friend to fix a gearbox when without warning this little bird came and sat on my arm. We could not believe it and at first I thought, it would soon discover its mistake and fly away. This was not the case though and it didn't take long for the bird to make itself at home on either head, hand or shoulder.
We eventually took it into the house where it continued to amaze us with the way it would just fly from person to person and eventually take a nap on my friends wife shoulder.
We decided to keep it in the house and seeing that they have dogs, they suggested I take it with me to Umkomaas. At arriving in Umkomaas on Sunday we left the bird in the house and went out for the morning. On our return we were disappointed to find it has 'flown the coop' but happy that it was rather in nature than being captive.
The little bird was just about forgotten when my neighbor, husband to the owner of Dawn to Dusk Crèche, showed me the article.
It is a blessing that such a small creature can warm so many hearts, and hats off for humanity for rewarding it with freedom.''

Photo submitted by Francois Ras

Photo submitted by Francois Ras
Well I'm sure we all think this is an amazing sequence of events as it is, but when I received another email from Shelly on Friday 20th January, I really thought Leon Schuster was going to jump out of the cupboard. Shelly has received another story about this little bird from Jenni Corfield.

'' On the Sunday afternoon the boys were playing outside in their pool when we noticed the little bird who was just hopping around next to the kids, anyway it followed them in and ate some bread with Chase he ended up staying all night, flew in and out a bit then finally settled in the boys room when I woke up in the night to check on Seth I noticed the bird still on the shelf in the room, any way when we woke up at around 6am it was sitting on Shaun’s foot just staring at him and then flew out the window.  Really an amazing story and I’m so happy that me and my family were a part of it.''

and her photos

Chase with his new found friend
(Photo Jenni Corfield)

Chase with his new found friend
(Photo Jenni Corfield)

Kalib and our little white-eye
(Photo Jenni Corfield)

What an absolutely wonderful story to start off 2012.
The big questions being 'is this one and the same bird?' and 'why is it displaying this behaviour?'

1 comment:

  1. How sweet. I have just saved a baby from my cat & have managed to feed it very easily for 3 days. Never had any luck before. Just put him in the garden in a huge cage & was so excited to see the parents found it in a matter of 2 hours & are feeding it