Sunbirds often perch on a nearby branch while inserting its long bill into a flower to harvest nectar. Sometimes, the base of the flower is pierced, in which case the bird is termed a nectar thief, as it does not assist in pollination in the process.
A third method of harvesting nectar is hovering, often associated with hummingbirds. Hovering is flight without horizontal or vertical movement and it involves extra energy on the part of the bird. Hovering becomes necessary when there is no convenient perch nearby. The sunbird may also hover when searching for insects. Although not well known, many species of sunbirds hover when foraging.
Harprit Singh’s image of a Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) hovering while trying to harvest nectar is more common than most birdwatchers are aware of. The plant looks like the water canna (Thalia sp.).
This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.