No matter where you live in South Africa, if you have a garden with trees and shrubs, you will probably be visited by the Cape White-eye. In fact, if you have trees or large shrubs that have plenty of leaf cover then they may even breed in your garden. Look out for their cup-shaped nests which are placed in the fork of a branch, amongst the leaves. White-eyes breed during spring and summer but the exact timing differs from place to place.
What do Cape White-eyes eat?
These are attractive little birds and are welcome visitors to your garden. You will normally see small flocks of them scouring shrubs and trees for insects and nectar. Nectar is a strong favourite with these birds. If they had teeth, I would say that they had a sweet tooth! They will also eat soft fruit and may come down to a feeding table with soft fruit as long as it is placed near cover. White-eyes are also drawn to bird baths where they enjoy a good splash round in the water.
Interestingly they vary in colour across the country. In KZN they are greener while in the Cape they tend to be yellow with grey bellies. Inland they are normally yellow but, of course, many variations of these colours occur. One thing is for certain – they always have the white ring around the eye.
Does the Cape White-eye cause any damage in the garden?
The Cape White-eye generally does more good than harm in your garden. As mentioned above they do like soft fruits and may decide to visit some of your fruit trees for a bit of a meal. The bit of damage they may cause is small compared to the good they do by eating aphids.
Although White-eyes are not particularly shy, they do tend to stick to well-vegetated areas in gardens. So keep an eye open for them and add them to your garden bird list.
Read more about Cape White-eyes on BlueGnu.