Something Over Tea

Among the most delightful of the avian visitors to our garden are the Bronze Mannikins (Spermestes cucullata), which are among smallest birds in South Africa. I think they are truly delightful little birds and often regard them as feathered bundles of happiness.

Males and females look alike: they have grey bills and blackish heads with white underparts and brown barring on their sides. The metallic green patch of feathers on their shoulders stands out in the sunlight. By contrast, the immature birds are pale brown above with buff head and underpart plumage.

Having observed them in our garden for several years now, I get the impression that they are very cheerful and busy little birds – even though I have seen males being fairly aggressive towards one another, especially during the breeding season. They flutter about like falling leaves and make what I regard as cheerful calls. This…

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