Sunbird harvests nectar from Wrightia religiosa

posted in: Feeding-plants, Plants | 1

The sui-mei is what the Cantonese call Wrightia religiosa. This small tree of about 2-5 metres tall originates from the Malaysian states of Kedah and Perlis and also from Thailand. The plant has small leaves and small, white flowers that dangle delicately from slender branches. These delightfully fragrant flowers can be seen the year round. Propagated by stem or root cuttings, it is a favourite with bonsai enthusiasts (above right).

Ria Tan, a totally marine person, is just beginning to pay more attention to things terrestrial, like birds for example. Working from her new “office” – a little table in the verandah of her home in the early morning – she becomes aware of the birds and their calls and has a camera besides her to record whatever birds that appear. For the lest few mornings of early March 2011, while obviously working on her website WildSingapore, she has been noticing a little bird (“was it a sunbird?”) that regularly visited the Wrightia religiosa bush, sometimes also known as wild water plum, right in front of “office” (above left). According to Ria, “The bird hops around diligently poking her bill into flowers on almost every branch. So far, she’s been alone when she does this. She leaves once she’s done the bush thoroughly.”

Yes, the bird is a female sunbird.

Ria Tan
March 2011
(Image of sunbird by Ria Tan, that of the bonsai plant by YC Wee)

  1. Lee Chiu San

    I have pots of Wrightia on my porch, and they do attract sunbirds, even though the flowers are small, and I would believe contain hardly any nectar. But then, sunbirds are also small.

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