Olive-backed Sunbird harvesting nectar from heliconia

on 12th May 2011

“It was about 9 am. The sun was shining brightly but I was in the shade. Then I heard the familiar chirping foraging calls of a sunbird. I turned around and there was a female Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) harvesting nectar from the Heliconia Pstticorum ‘Lady Di’ nearby.

“Watch the video, recorded on 17 Apr, here:

“While trying to ID the Heliconia as a beginner, I came across a bewildering catalogue of Heliconia images at the website of Heliconia Society of Puerto Rico, Inc. HERE. There are several cultivars that looked very similar to the one in the video. After spending sometime studying the subtle differences between them, and with the help of the Heliconia Cultivar Checklist and Register HERE, which gives detailed description of each cultivar, I concluded that the one in my video is ‘Lady Di’.

“The description is as follows:

‘Lady Di’ H. psittacorum Status: Accepted. Nominant: C. Ullman and R. Wyss (1985). Description: Erect inflorescence; 5 to 8 distichous bracts, dark red with paler red on lower cheek; rachis red, pink, or pale pink; sepals light yellow with distal dark green band and white tip; ovary yellow; pedicel light yellow or cream. Vegetation musoid. Height 0.8 to 1.5 m (2.5 to 5 feet). Reference: Berry and Kress, 1991.”

Sun Chong Hong
27th April 2011

Note: Heliconias are native to tropical South Amarica. The native pollinators are hummingbirds and certain species of flycatchers help to disperse the seeds.

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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