“Was at Kuching for a regional paediatric congress and, as usual, tried to see what the city has to offer. Generally too much construction and development and bird life has diminished from when I worked there in the late 1980s. At that time I experienced a bird watcher’s paradise.
“I had an interesting observation on the waterfront of the city. I saw a breeding pair (from the delightful, rich plumage) of Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis ornatus) feeding extensively on Bougainvillea flowers.
“The problem is that I do not consciously remember every having seen a bird feed on Bougainvillea flowers in all my years of watching. I had always assumed that they did not contain nectar. Locally they are called “Bunga Kertas”, translated “paper flowers”, implying their ornamental value. I have always been against my city council planting them as they are of little value to wildlife, especially birds.
“There are even reports, if you do a net search, that Bougainvillea flowers trick hummingbirds into wasting precious energy trying to drink from empty blossoms.
“So I was curious as to these two busily visiting every flower in the patch of Bougainvillea. Definitely nectar sources have diminished in the city. So are there two getting some small bits from these flowers or also fooled?
“I wonder if anyone has experience with botany to state that Bougainvillea flowers have nectar, or if it varies for different sub-species of Bougainvillea.
“A short video of female and then male feeding above:”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Kuching City, Sarawak, Malaysia
Urban environment; late afternoon, bright day
10th September 2012