Loke Peng Fai’s image shows an Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) hovering in front of a flower of the Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis) (above). It has its bill deep inside the flower. Its tongue, like in all members of the family Nectariniidae except the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, is tubular. This allows nectar to be taken by capillary action (Cheke & Mann, 2008).
The normal method of foraging for nectar is by moving through the branches of the plant to get at the flowers, as shown in this video.
Hovering provides an additional method of feeding, especially where there are no convenient perches around the flowers. Hovering also comes into play when searching for insects
Loke Peng Fai & Subaraj Rajathurai
15th July 2016
Cheke, R. A. & C. F. Mann, 2008. Family Nectariniidae (Sunbirds). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & D. A. Christie (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 13. Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 196-320.