Sunbird probing 78 flowers in 5 minutes for nectar

on 17th June 2017

SunbirdOB-Firecracker fl

I have a large pot of Firecracker Plants that produces stalks of red flowers (Russelia equisetiformis) as well as yellow flowers (R. equisetiformis ‘Yellow Gold’) (above). Sunbirds love to visit the flowers to harvest the nectar.

SunbirdOB-Firecracker fl

Lately, a female Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarina jugularis) was seen around the plants during mornings as well as evenings. The male on the other hand was interested in the flowers of the Ornamental Banana (Musa ornate) nearby LINK.

I managed to video the sunbird during one of her evening visits for about five minutes. She was busy moving from one flower to another probing her small, slender bill delicately into the flowers to get at the nectar. The above image shows her bill white with pollen.

During the five minutes she was there, she probed a total of 78 flowers (red as well as yellow flowers) or an average of one flowers per 3.8 seconds – a very busy sunbird indeed.

This figure was obtained by slowing down the unedited video clip and counting the number of times the sunbird went from one flower to the other.

YC Wee
8th March 2017

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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