The male Copper-throated Sunbird

The adult male Copper-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia calcostetha) is a very colourful bird. According to Cheke & Mann (2008), it “has top of head metallic green, sides of head, hindneck, upper back, upperwing and graduated tail black, lower back, rump and upperwing-coverts metallic green; chin and throat metallic coppery red, bordered metallic purplish-blue, breast metallic purplish-blue, pectoral tufts yellow, belly and undertail-coverts black; iris brown; bill and legs black.”

Male Copper-throated Sunbird (Photo by Benson Toh).

Under optimum ambient light as in the two images shown here, this sunbird exhibits it’s amazing combination of colours. However, under poor light conditions this sunbird looks blackish (Cheke et al., 2001).

Male Copper-throated Sunbird (Photo by Tony Chua).

When the male moves among the shadows of the vegetation, it remains inconspicuous. The presence of a female will encourage him to move into the light so as to display his brilliant plumage in iridescent rainbow colours. This will stimulate the female sensory system, thus increasing his mating success (Hill & McGaw, 2006).

Benson Toh & Tony Chua
24th April 2018

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.
2. Cheke, R. A., C. F. Mann & R. Allen (2001). Sunbirds: A guide to the sunbirds, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters and sugarbirds of the world. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

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