A male Crimson Sunbird and the torch ginger flowers

on 9th January 2009

A male Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) regularly visits my kantan or torch ginger plant (Etlingera elatior) at around 1700 hours.

Sometimes he make a noisy visit, cheeping loudly and “shivering” his flight feathers as he lands on the inflorescence. Even when he pokes his long, curved bill one by one into the individual flowers to harvest the nectar, his feathers vibrate.

At other times this sunbird arrives silently, drinking nectar from the many flowers of this ginger plant, never making a sound. Then he carefully wipes his bill on the perch, first one side, then the other. This continues for about a minute or so.

Sometimes he sits on a nearby branch, not doing a thing. Not even preening. But ever aware of what is happening around. He turns his head left and right but otherwise sits quietly. On and off, his long, slender toungue flicks out, to be retracted almost immediately.

The bird only moves from his perch when disturbed by the noisy Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) when they suddenly fly in.

YC Wee
January 2009

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

8 Responses

  1. YC – this is awesome. I take it you are a photographer too. Beautiful capture. I enjoyed your garden post with the 7 in 1 trees, too. Awesome blog. Sad that I was not a birder the times I was in Singapore I would have gone out of my mind with all these beautiful birds. I will definitely look you up the next time there – thanks. All the best.

  2. Photographers do not regard me as a “true” photog as I take 20 shots and delete 19, with luck, that is. Similarly, birders regard me as a bogus birder. True in both instances. I am a plant person who has deserted plants. See you next time around, TR.

  3. Hi Y C, there is no such thing as a true photographer, once one picks up a camera, and documents an event, he/she is a photographer in its simplest sense. However, there are photographers whose skills are much better than others, and are able to make a living out of it. The majority of us are just recreational, or amateur photographers…

    You are not a bogus birder, but a very good desktop birder….

    It is good that you have the guts to admit that most of your pictures taken, are CRAP !!!

    My two cents worth …


    K C Tsang

  4. Thanks KC for your two cents. In the same vein, I presume there are no such thing as a true birder. Once you pick up a bino and peeps at a bird, you are a birder in its simplest sense. So I am a birder after all… who sits in front of the computer and looks out of the window, picking up the bino whenever a bird calls. Thank god for that.

  5. hi, Im from Cebu and I thought i was dreiamng when i saw a cute little hummingbird feeding on some flowers in my school. It looked like a yellow-crested one. I thought they didn’t exist in the Philippines! Well, not until yesterday. Thanku for the insight..

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