Olive-backed Sunbird – feeding technique

on 14th March 2022

It was a very wet morning today and I returned home to watch Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis flammaxillaris-ornatus intergrades) feeding on nectar. There is a wonderful Malvaviscus arboreus (Wax Mallow or Ladies Teardrop) bush that they usually visit very early which does not allow for good images. Today the rain delayed their feeding and I had better light. Many mistake the Malvaviscus penduliflorus (Lipstick Hibiscus or Firecracker Hibiscus) for the Malvaviscus arboreus, but M. arboreus has upright flowers as opposed to the pendulous flowers of the M. penduliflorus. Both of these exotic plants (introduced) are favourite sources of nectar for Sunbirds and Spiderhunters.

Feeding on the M. penduliflorus is by the nectar robbing technique, piercing the base of the flower. Feeding on the M. arboreus is usually by the conventional technique for most birds. However today I noticed that the Olive-backed Sunbirds used both conventional (above) and nectar robbing (below) techniques for his flower, more of the latter.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Urban environment

Date: 28th September 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

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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