Anything improper going on between a juvenile and an adult female Olive-backed Sunbird?

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K Fletcher: “I have been photographing what I think are Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis) in our garden but either I am confused or the bird on top in the attached image is confused. It look as though they are mating but the bird on top doesn’t have the markings of an adult male and from other pics taken I think it has probably just fledged and is still being fed insects by the adults. What do you think is happening here please?”

Olive-backed Sunbird: juvenile and female adult (Image courtesy of K Fletcher).

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS: Agree with you that the bird on top is a juvenile. The gape is clear and the appearance supports juvenile status. The bird below is an adult female Olive-backed Sunbird. From the static image it does appear as though some mating event is happening. But you were there to see the action. I presume this was not just some random chase of the juvenile to be fed and then ‘mobbing’ the female parent?

“If not and an actual attempt at mating, then I would lean on precocious sexual development (seen even in children – 2 weeks ago I had a 7yr old boy who attempted sex with a 5 year old girl with an erection referred to me).

“Any opinions David? “
Dr David R Wells: “Coincidental positioning I would think (a large leaf is in the way!). Attention grabbing by whatever means? This is certainly only a fledgling, and surely more interested in being fed!”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS:
“I am inclined to also think the juvenile was just in the way and hungry. But if you look closely they are both resting on the large leaf and the juvenile is resting on the adult’s body. I don’t think the leaf is in the way.”

K Fletcher: “Many thanks to everyone for their thoughts and input on this. I will continue to keep an eye on their behaviour over the next week or so.”

K Fletcher, Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS & Dr David R Wells
15th June 2018

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