Moulting of a male Black-throated Sunbird

on 9th March 2009

Adrian Lim a.k.a. wmw998 photographed a Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata) in Peninsular Malaysia in August 2008. What attracted his attention was the presence of a small red patch on its side and a blue patch near the base of the tail area (above). These colourful patches suggested to Adrian that the bird was in the process of changing into its breeding plumage.

Our bird specialist, R Subaraj has this to say: “Yes! You are correct. Both are young birds (top, above left) beginning to moult into adult male plumage. You can see bits of the right colours in the right places. The photo (above left) also distinctly shows the orange gape of a young bird.”

The Black-throated Sunbird, resident in Peninsular Malaysia, is not seen in Singapore. The adult male is a handsome bird with colourful plumage (above right).

All images by Adrian Lim.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

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

3 responses

  1. Great shots there. Quite amazing you can spot that bit of red and blue – even more amazing you can shoot the bird against a wooded setting. You picture is fit for the wall!

    There are more pictures of brilliant birds ( and other wildlife, too) here. Enjoy!

  2. Probably less noticeable, but the lesser- and greater coverts of the top bird have all been replaced by the adult feathers as are the outermost tertial, central tail feather and a inner secondary. You can also see that the moult isn’t the same on both sides as the chestnut feathers have only developed on the right side and not the left side.

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