“In the past many months there has been a clash of sunbirds in my garden. The resident Brown-throated (Anthreptes malacensis malacensis) have been assailed by the Olive-backed (Cinnyris jugularis ornatus) which have finally made inroads after 10 years on the fringes of our garden. In addition there have been many other Brown-throated who have tried to displace the resident
“Fortunately the resident Brown-throated and the ‘new’ Olive-backed have made ‘peace’ and now coexist. Now we get to see Olive-backed juveniles in the comfort of our home.
“This juvenile Olive-backed is just transforming into a male. I was surprised that it chooses the Peacock Flower or Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) to feed on. No Sunbird in our garden has ever feed on this flower and I was not aware it had nectar. Not sure if it is really getting any nectar or it is ‘sham’ feeding i.e. trying out newly acquired skills. However it spent a long time visiting many flowers and allowed very close approach.
“I am sure that Caesalpinia pulcherrima has some nectar as insects and some butterflies do visit but not birds to my knowledge. More often sunbirds search it for spiders, but this was not the case here.
“This botanical web site states ‘The flower is probably pollinated by large moths or sunbirds.’ DG Mackean.
“Of course the Caesalpinia pulcherrima is used extensively by our resident Brown-throated Sunbirds to bath.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
18th December 2010