Unexplained observations of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis nesting. I had written briefly on my Facebook page about the nesting of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis along the corridor of my flat. The nest was however built out-of-sight and out-of-reach and hung from one of my plant which overhangs beyond the parapet wall. You will not be able to see it unless you take the trouble to peer over the wall. Briefly, the female sunbird started constructing the nest on or before 10 February
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Sunbirds are small, brightly coloured birds with bills that are curved downwards and have tubular tongues. These adaptations allow them to reach into flowers to access the nectar. While they mostly feed on nectar, invertebrates such as spiders are an important part of their diet as well. Due to their feeding patterns, they also act as pollinators to the flowers that they visit. Other major bird pollinator families include the hummingbirds in the Americas and honeyeaters in Australia, which have similar adaptations due to convergent evolution.
This means that the sunbird, hummingbird and honeyeater lineages have independently evolved features of similar form or structure but these features were not present in their last common ancestor. There are seven species of sunbirds in Singapore, with the most common species being the Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis and Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis.
When visiting our parks and gardens, you may have spotted the pouch-shaped nests of sunbirds. They are constructed from leaves, grass and spider web, enclosed with a side entrance, and suspended from thin branches. Sunbirds are generally monogamous and both parents will work together to raise their young. Left: A female Olive-backed Sunbird sitting in the nest, incubating eggs.
Photo credit: Jacqueline Chua. Right: Two Olive-backed Sunbird chicks waiting for their parents to return with food. Photo credit: Tok Yin Xin. When trying to identify the sunbirds in Singapore, try to look at the habitat that the bird is found in.
Sunbirds are brightly coloured, sometimes with iridescent feathers, like many species of hummingbirds. They also display sexual dimorphism, which means that the males and females have evolved different colouration. Males usually have distinct colouration, which makes them more easily identifiable. However, females of different sunbird species can look very similar. Here are some useful guidelines to help you differentiate between the common sunbird species found in Singapore.
Species commonly found in our urban parks and gardens. Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis. Photo credit: Cai Yi Xiong. Photo credit: Ong Ruici. Photo by: Francis Yap. Other species that are easily confused. The following table illustrates more distinguishing features of these two species.
Copper-throated Sunbird Leptocoma calcostetha. Photo credit: David Chua. Photo credit: Francis Yap. Love to bird-watch, or want to learn more about identifying garden birds? Click here for more information. Have views or comments on this article? Let us know via this form. Past Issues Facts Ask the Expert. Photo credit: Tok Yin Xin Look towards Home When trying to identify the sunbirds in Singapore, try to look at the habitat that the bird is found in.
Total Comments: 0. Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis. Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja. Photo credit: Cai Yi Xiong Olive-green upper parts Iridescent blue forehead, throat and upper breast Yellow under parts.
Photo credit: Ong Ruici Reddish with dark grey under parts Dark blue crown and tail Dark streaks on face. Photo credit: Francis Yap Male Iridescent reddish-copper throat Purple under parts Iridescent green upper parts Tail is longer than other sunbirds.
The sunbirds are a group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering, but usually perch to feed most of the time. In most subspecies, the underparts of both male and female are bright yellow, the backs are a dull brown colour. The forehead, throat and upper breast of the adult male is a dark, metallic blue-black. In the Philippines where they are known as "tamsi" the males of some subspecies have an orange band on the chest, in Wallacea and northern New Guinea some subspecies have most of the underparts blackish, and in southern China and adjacent parts of Vietnam most of the underparts of the male are greyish-white.
How to tell the difference between the Sunbirds found in Singapore
The olive-backed sunbird Cinnyris jugularis , also known as the yellow-bellied sunbird , is a species of sunbird found from Southern Asia to Australia. In the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the olive-backed sunbird in his Ornithologie based on a specimen collected in the Philippines. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Certhia jugularis and cited Brisson's work. In most subspecies , the underparts of both male and female are bright yellow, the backs are a dull brown colour.