Latin: Cinnyris jugularis (Nectarina jugularis)
Indonesian: Burung-madu seriganti
Size: 11 cm
Olive-backed Sunbirds are regular visitors of my garden. They usually come for the nectar
in the flowers of the Garlic Vine and the Trumpet Vine. As the Trumpet Vine grows above our terrace and the birds are
not that shy, it is easy to observe their behaviour and appearance.
Both male and female have an olive-green back and yellow breast. The male is distinguished by its dark purple-blue throat which looks black without the right light fall.
An important part of the Sunbird's diet is nectar. I always thought that the long beak of these birds is used to enter trumpet shaped flowers from the front. In fact the bird gets its nectar in an easier way: it just makes a hole near the basis of the flower.
There have been two attempts for nesting by Sunbirds in my garden. Unfortunately none was successful. The first nest was destroyed by heavy wind, the second by unexpected rain in the dry season falling exactly from the roof above it. The nest is a rough woven hanging structure with the entrance at the side. In the cases mentioned above the nests were made in a shrub about 1.5 meter above the ground. One or two eggs per nest seems to be normal.
Latin: Zosterops chloris
English: Lemon-bellied White-eye. Yellow bellied White-eye
Indonesian: Kacamata laut
Size: 11-12 cm.
There are several Macarthur Palms in my garden of which most of the time there is at least
one tree bearing ripe fruits. Because of this there are all year
round White-eyes visiting. It often looks like these birds together
with Bulbuls (see below) do not have much else on their menu than
these palm fruits.
The White-eyes are easy to recognize by the small white feathers forming a ring around their eyes. In Indonesian their name is "spectacle bird" (Burung kacamata). This specific species is called Burung kacamata laut in Indonesian. 'Laut' meaning sea, tells us that the birds are found in coastal areas. So, with Makassar being a coastal town, I guess there is nothing special in having this bird species visiting my garden.
White-eyes are too small to take whole fruits from the Macarthur Palm. They just pick small pieces until the a fruit is finished or drops from the tree. When there are young, these follow the parents with trembling wings, begging for food all the time. The young have as well a white ring around the eyes. The main difference with their parents is that feathers are more fluffy and exposed sides of their bill.
Latin: Passer montanus
Indonesian: Burung gereja erasia
Size: 14 cm.
In the higher part of my
garden lives a group of Tree Sparrows. They visit the top of the mango tree, the roof
and the TV antenna. For some reason they never visit the lower
levels of the garden. This must mean that they can find enough food elsewhere.
Tree Sparrows are introduced in Sulawesi. Probably they came here in captivity from other parts of the world.
The birds have most of the time nests under the roof tiles of the house. It is a big mystery for me how they and their young can survive there. Under the roof tiles is a metal layer the avoid leakage. With the sun hitting the tiles the temperature in the space in between must be over 500 C during the daytime. It seems they just like it.
Latin: Caprimulgus affinis
Indonesian: Cabak kota
Size: about 25 cm
The photo's on the right are really rare. One morning these nightjars
were resting in a shady place on the lower roof of the
house. They were just sitting there, like waiting for something. Not
long after the climbing sun hit their place they were gone. Never
after I spotted the birds sitting on the roof again.
Nightjars are common in and around Makassar. Usually you hear the bird's call not long after sunset. Their typical 'tsweeek' tells you there are one or more of them flying around. Their wings are relatively long and moving fast and now and then come to a standstill for short gliding. Often the birds make unexpected moves, obviously to catch an insect.
In the photos the nightjar's bill is difficult to see. In fact it is very wide (for 'scooping' insects during the flight), but has only a small part that sticks out. The beak extends up to under the eye.
It seems the birds are most active in the hours just after sunset and just before sunrise, but can be heard as well during other hours of the night. After sunrise they are gone again. Maybe sitting on somebody else's roof that is shady all day long?
Latin: Pycnonotus aurigaster
Indonesian: Cucak kutilang, Kutilang
Size: 20 cm
Before sunrise, with the first signs of a new day beginning, the
singing of the Bulbuls take an important part in bird sounds around
my house. In the daytime they fly in groups moving between roof and
tree tops until they think it is time to eat again. The Macarthur Palms in my garden are often visited. The birds seem to follow the
same pattern all the time: one fruit is eaten on the spot, after
that one is taken away to be eaten in an other place. If the much
smaller White-eyes happen to be around, they are chased away from
The Sooty-headed Bulbul is a very common bird in Makassar. If most parts of town with high trees you can see them flying around in groups. Actually the bird has no origins in Sulawesi. The birds escaped from captivity and seem to have increased to a large number.
Latin: Tyto Rosenbergii
English: Sulawesi (Barn) Owl, Celebes Barn Owl
Indonesian: Serak Sulawesi
Size: 43 - 46 cm
The first time a Sulawesi Barn Owl
visited my house, one of the children shouted in the early evening: "there is a small monkey flying above our house". She clearly was confused to see a bird
not known to her that had its eyes in front of the head.
The Sulawesi Barn Owl is endemic to Sulawesi and is considerably larger that its relative Tyto alba (Barn Owl, 35 cm) which is spread over many parts of the world, including Java and some other Indonesian islands.
In the bird guides I consulted the habitat of the Tyto Rosenbergii is described as open rural area, coconut plantations and forest edges.
Several sighting in Makassar prove that this species is a rather common bird in town and has either adapted to this environment, or has always been living here. The biggest surprise was to see this bird one evening sitting above the busy traffic on a lamp post at Pantai Losari (Makassar seaside).
The Sulawesi Barn Owl is like other owls active at night and usually rests in the day time in a shady place in a tree, or in buildings. It makes its nest in protected places like buildings and caves. From the pellets dropped by this bird in my garden it looks like its food exists of rats only. This probably means that the species' diet is similar with that of the Tyto alba and in general exists of rodents. It means as well that it is a very useful bird that helps to control the rat population.
Latin: Artamus leucorhynchus
Indonesian: Kekep babi
Size: 19 cm
Sometimes I find a bird
species around the house
that I do not know yet.
The bird in the picture above
was sitting one day on the TV antenna. Its head was moving in all
directions continuously, probably in search of insects. Sometimes it
flew to catch something and came immediately back again to the
If I can make some clear photo's of new visitors I usually can find the species with the help of a bird guide. Without photos the bird often has flown before I can note enough details. A search in my bird guide made me first think that the new guest was a Cuckoo-shrike. But these birds seem only to live in mountain forests. A better look at the pictures told me that the Cuckoo-shrike has a far longer tail. The Swallow-like flight of the visiting bird finally convinced me that I had to look at the members of a different group of birds. That's how I found it to be a White-breasted Wood-Swallow.
The Wood-Swallow became a regular visitor of the antenna. Sometime a second bird joins. May be they are breading nearby? Now I know the species I often spot these bird in the rural areas around Makassar. Its status seems to be common.
Latin: Gerygone sulphurea
English: Flyeater, Golden-bellied/Yellow-breasted Flyeater, Golden-bellied Fairy-warbler, Yellow-breasted (Gerygone) Warbler, Yellow-breasted Wren-warbler
Indonesian: Remetuk Laut
Size: 9.5-10.5 cm
The flyeater is a tiny bird that usually is
first discovered by its distinctive song existing of a series of
tones descending three or four notes. This fast moving bird
basically lives on insects. In many areas in Indonesia its status is
It makes a very attractive ball shaped nest hanging a few meters above the ground. The round entrance made at the side is covered with a little roof. It looks like a "tail" at bottom of nest is sticking out in the opposite direction of the entrance to keep the hanging construction in balance. Unfortunately I have no pictures of a nest yet.
Latin: Dicaeum celebicum
Indonesian: Cabai panggul-kelabu
Size: 9 cm
quality of the picture above here is rather poor, but still I am
happy that it shows the bright red throat of this little bird. With
only 9 cm the Flowerpecker is the smallest birds visiting my garden.
Usually the Flowerpecker sits in a tree top or antenna and rarely visits lower
levels of the garden. Its high and fragile sound is difficult to
describe, but easy to recognise again once you know it.