I was entirely happy with my opinions expressed about the behaviour of the Spectacled Spiderhunter posted earlier as I have no evidence of the immaturity of the bird seen. This type of ‘wing-fluttering-food-begging’ type of behaviour has been observed in a number of spiderhunters (Wells 2007) including the Long-billed Spiderhunter Arachnothera robusta robusta, Spectacled Spiderhunter Arachnothera flavigaster and Yellow-eared Spiderhunter Arachnothera chrysogenys chrysogenys.
In the Spectacled Spiderhunter it was once seen in relationship to courtship.
At the site I also observed the Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera modesta modesta) engaging in this behaviour (Post 1) towards another of the same species.
There are four possible reasons for this behaviour:
- Food-begging by a juvenile or immature bird
- Aggression towards other birds to protect feeding sources
- Mobbing of a presumed threat
In the past I have observed the similar behaviour as part of the courtship of Brown-throated Sunbirds Anthreptes malacensis and Olive-backed Sunbirds Cinnyris jugularis. Like the Long-billed Spiderhunter, the Grey-breasted Spiderhunter also uses fluttering to gain access to the nectar (Post 2). Note the yellow seen in some Grey-breasted Spiderhunter at the ‘shoulder’ (Post 3).
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Location: Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth adjacent to limestone outcroppings
Date: 10th December 2020
Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone