Sugar Thieves

Artist  Marjolein Bastin
Painted  2010
Medium  Watercolor
Subject Location  Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

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Artist Notes

A hummingbird can hover in the sky while flying, just like a helicopter. This is how it is able to drink nectar from flowers. When it comes across a flower with long deep petals it can use its long tongue to reach the nectar.

For the first time ever our Aloe plant in Grand Cayman is blooming! I’m not the only one who has discovered this. Here come the Bananaquits, both parents and their two children. And just like hummingbirds they love the nectar which is hidden high inside the hanging flowers. A sugar pot left on the table has been known to attract them.

Bananaquits can’t hover in the air and their tongue is definitely too short…and so they turn to thievery. They climb up the flower’s stem like monkeys, then bite a small hole in the bottom of the flower and drink the nectar. Count Dracula would be impressed. The flower receives no benefit at all, the stamens and the pistil are not actually touched.

I would call the police!

Translated into English, the people of Suriname also call this bird a Sugar thief.

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