Courtship behaviour of Olive-backed Sunbird

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Sunbirds | 4


I was in the garden a few mornings ago when suddenly there was a series of loud chatters coming from next door. A pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis, formerly Nectarinia jugularis) that had just landed in the bougainvillea bush were making the ruckus.

These birds normally arrive in pairs or in a small group, darting in and out of the foliage rather rapidly. They seldom remained in one spot for long. And all the time the constant loud tweet-tweet-tweet that announces their presence. Normally I would simply ignore them as they are not easy to locate among the foliage and once located, they would invariably move on.

But not this time. I spotted a male with his metallic blue chest slightly puffed up, perching on a branch. The two feet were firmly clutching the branch but the body was in constant motion. First he turned to the right, then to the left and to the right again. This went on and on and all the time he was calling loudly, his bill opened and pointing upwards. Once in a while he straightened his body, with his head and bill pointing skyward.

Then he moved to a nearby branch and continued the ritual. Suddenly he crouched, spread his wings low down and quivered them for a short while, again all the time calling loudly. The female was nearby watching but did not come close.

Then all of a sudden he darted off the bush, not to another tree but to the far beyond. And just as suddenly his mate followed.

Quiet returned.

YC Wee
April 2007

4 Responses

  1. angie

    I recall seeing some fantastic images of the OBSunbird’s mating dance taken by KC Tsang, emailed on 03 March 2006. Unforgettable!

  2. TH

    Can any tell me whether the nest will be reused after the chick is mature. Thanks.

    • YC

      Yes, the nest will be reused, again and again. But it is difficult to tell whether by the same pair or a different pair.

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