Attracting sunbirds.

Orange breasted sunbird – photo: Mike Bridgeford

South Africa has many species of sunbirds. The beaks of these energetic little creatures are specially adapted to feed from tubular flowers.  Their  long  thin curved bills  can reach the nectar deep down in the flowers. Plant genera that attract Sunbirds include Agapanthus, Erica, Kniphofia, Leonotus, Tecoma, Wachendorfia and Protea species.

Agapanthus “Alice Double” and Agapanthus praecox Blue are coming into flower now, but generally speaking, red and orange flowers are  more attractive to sunbirds.  But these tiny creatures are quite opportunistic and will feed on any nectar producing tubular flower.

The easiest plants to grow that attract sunbirds is Leonotus species such as Leonotus leonorus and Leonotus ocymifolia. These plants are fast growing and they do not require much attention, so they are perfect for the gardener that has a bit of a brown thumb.

Tecomaria capensis varieties are easy to look after too, they are hardy and very rewarding. These include  Tecomaria capensis “Rocky Horror”, which should be particularly attractive to sunbirds because of its deep red colour, Tecomaria capensis “Burnt Orange” and Tecomaria capensis “Pink Blush”.

Wachendorfia thyrsiflora

Kniphofia uvaria and Wachendorfia thyrsifolia  are bulbous plants and  are just as attractive to sunbirds with their orange and yellow flowers.

You can also make your garden even more attractive to sunbirds by adding a birdbath. The main attraction will however be your plants, so be sure to  get some plants now that they can be well established by the time sunbirds decide to visit your corner of our beautiful country.