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Hummingbirds harvesting nectar

on 29th June 2009

Cedric Ng Shuwei a.k.a flexi showcased his images of hummingbirds photographed recently in El Valle de Antón, Coclé, Panama. The Violet-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica) (below left) and the Rufous-crested Couquette (Lophornis delattrei) (below right) are shown hovering in front of the flowers of Stachytarpheta mutabilis,.

The image on below (left) shows the Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti) collecting nectar from the same herb.

These smallish, highly colourful hummingbirds are constantly active, darting from flower to flower and hovering in front of flowers to harvest the nectar. This is an energy demanding activity and the birds need to be sustained by harvesting a large amount of nectar.

Although we do not have the hummingbirds in this part of the world, we do have the flowering plant, Stachytarpheta mutabilis, an introduced ornamental from Tropical America. Here, the flowers attract sunbirds. Another species we have, also from the same continent, is S. indica or snakeweed, a weed of open areas.

Asians, especially those from Southeast Asia, tend to be more familiar with hummingbirds, as until so many years back, we were exposed to publications, videos and films produced overseas, showing neo-tropical rather than tropical flora and fauna. So most of us we grew up believing that the many sunbirds that flock to our flowers are hummingbirds.

Well, sunbirds are from this part of the world while hummingbirds are from the American tropics, the so-called neotropics. The former do not usually hover in front of a flower to harvest nectar. They perch on a branch or the flowering head to get at the flower. Hummingbirds on the other hand always hover in front of flowers.

This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org 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.

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