“A common yet delightful bird that can become quite confiding is the Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis malacensis). Some comments on plumage of the male. I am using Wells 2007 and Cheke & Mann 2017 in Handbook of the Birds of the World as references.
“First the head, mantel and back: Wells 2007 describes the head, neck and mantel as ‘shinny metallic gree’ with ‘metallic viole’ back. Cheke & Mann 2017 say ‘oily metallic purple-green above, with purple or violet back’.
“The 3 images above together with the one below show the head, neck, mantel and back in various lighting and postures. The whole area can look metallic green in some light/posture (top) but can also look metallic blue (3 other images). The colour depends on posture and how the light strikes the feathers.
“The lesser-coverts are always bright metallic blue and the median coverts tawny chestnut (Wells 2007)
“One feature that is hard to spot is the pectoral tufts. Unlike the Olive-backed Sunbird where the pectoral tufts are orange and spotted occasionally, the Brown-throated Sunbird had bright yellow tufts that blend-in with the yellow of the breast. The above shows them nicely extended.
“The images above and below also show nicely the ‘brown’ throat which is bordered by metallic strips. Cheke & Mann 2017 states ‘chin and throat pale pinkish-brown with lateral border of metallic purple’ and Wells 2007 ‘throat dull liver’\ ‘malar-streak of metallic violet that turns metallic green… at base of neck’. I have always found the throat to be more pink-red than brown. The malar-streak actually has two brighter sections – near the bill and when it reaches the base of the neck; in between it is duller. But the whole strip can look dull in certain postures/lighting.”
“The face-patch is important as it helps differentiate from the Red-throated Sunbird (Wells 2007). Cheke & Mann 2017 describe it as ‘side of head olive-green to greenish-brown’, while Wells 2007 says ‘whole face … ear-coverts … bronzy moss green’. The image below offers a close up of the face and I find Wells description very apt. Notice also how, in this view, much of the malar-steak is dull.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
3rd October 2017
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment