Nicobar’s sunbirds find a new home – electric wires

For the first time,ornithologists have found that sunbirds in the tsunami-affected Nicobar Islands have adapted to the devastation...

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: February 19, 2009 11:42 pm

For the first time,ornithologists have found that sunbirds in the tsunami-affected Nicobar Islands have adapted to the devastation by using live electric wires as anchors for their nests. The natural habitat destruction has led to this ‘unusual’ occurrence,as sunbirds are not known to suspend their nests from live electric wires.

Dr Satish Pande and Niranjan Sant,ornithologists from Pune,have recorded their observation in a paper published in the June 2008 edition of the Indian Birds. They pointed out that the tsunami that struck the Great Nicobar coastline in December 2004 devastated the coastal habitat,including the mangroves,the traditional nesting grounds of klossi olive backed sunbirds. This may have prompted the birds to look for alternative nest sites and the use of wires was their immediate response to a situation,Pande said.

The conspicuousness of nests appears to be a disadvantage,as they can attract the attention of predators. It was observed that the commonest predators of the birds’ nests — crows — were absent in the Great Nicobar Island. The only predatory threat to nesting sunbirds is the presence of large troops of marauding crab-eating macaques.

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