Sunbirds are well known and much loved birds in the Mission Beach area. Their habit of occasionally building nests on house decks or outdoor patios has endeared these little jewels to many a local resident.
Australia only has the single species of Sunbird with others occurring across tropical zones of the world and boasting a range of brilliant colours from red to green and even multicoloured, yet all are tiny and all build the same domed nest with both parents active in rearing their young.
The sexes are easily told apart as the male has a brilliant blue shield across the upper part of his breast whereas the female is all yellow. During courtship he uses this vivid blue to attract a mate, puffing his chest out in an exaggerated manner and taking care to guarantee that the sun catches his breast and displays it to best advantage. Birds pair for a season and must take care as predators such as Goannas, Tree snakes and Butcher birds all enjoy the takeaway meal of helpless juvenile Sunbirds, merely tearing the nest asunder and leaving the hapless young flightless on the ground where they can be picked up.
This may have resulted in the habit of nesting in human habitation. Despite their Honeyeater like appearance they are not a Honeyeater and dine mostly on insects although some nectar may be lapped from flowers that enable this.