Olive-backed Sunbird harvesting nectar of Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis) flower

posted in: Feeding-plants, Sunbirds | 3

SunbirdOB-eclipse male [LokePengFai] 1

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).

SunbirdOB-eclipse male [LokePengFai] 1 2

Subaraj Rajathurai has confirmed that the Olive-backed Sunbird is an eclipse male, as shown by the presence of black streaks down its throat and breast (above).

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

Earlier posts show hovering by Olive-backed Sunbird, Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) and the New World hummingbirds.

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.

3 Responses

  1. Serena Chen


    i would like to get in touch with Loke Pang Fai for a hi-res version of this photo, is it possible to put us in touch please? Thank you so much!

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