06 October 2011

Purple Sunbird

Sitting on a roof-top in Rajiv Gandhi Nagar just off Chengam Road one kilometre west of Ramana Nagar, I noticed this beautiful Purple Sunbird enjoying his perch on an electricity pole.

Purple Sunbird on Electricity Pole

The Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia Asiatica) is small (about the size of a sparrow) with a slender, curved bill and a tubular tongue, which is well adapted for feeding on the nectar of flowers The male Purple Sunbird has two distinct types of plumage. The breeding male is characterised by the metallic bluish-black body, and the tuft of crimson and yellow feathers under each wing. In contrast, the non-breeding male Purple Sunbird has a much duller ‘eclipse’ plumage resembling the female, with yellow underparts and a dark line of feathers running down the centre of the throat and breast.

The female is a brown to olive-brown above, pale dull yellow below – but with darker wings and a broad black stripe running down middle of breast.

Mature Male Purple Sunbird

This bird which is common throughout Tiruvannamalai District prefers gardens, gardens, cultivated and scrub country and also light deciduous forest.

Its diet consists mostly of flower nectar as can be ascertained from its long, curved beaked, which is adapted for probing and sucking flower nectar. However the bird also feasts on insects and spiders and fruits.

This bird is often seen in pairs or small groups in which as many as 40 to 50 individuals have sometimes been noted.

Purple Sunbird Immature Male

A sharp monosyllabic 'wich, wich' uttered as it flits about This species is known to defend its territory by singing and chasing intruders.

In courtship displays the male raises its head, fans its tail and flutters with partly open wings that expose the pectoral tufts and sings before the female.

Female Sunbird

Purple Sunbird Male Molting

Sunbird in Flight

Nesting season flexible mostly March to May.The nest is a pouch made of cobwebs, thin strips of vegetation, lichens and bark. The entrance hole on the side is often shaded by a overhanging projection. The nest is built almost entirely by the female. The nest material is not woven and most of it is held together by cobwebs. About five to ten days may be taken in the building of the nest. The inner cavity is expanded by the bird by openings its wing and turning around on the inside.

Male Purple Sunbird
feeding young in nest

Only the female builds the nest and incubates the eggs which hatch after 15 to 17 days. There are usually 2 or 3 greyish or greenish white eggs marked with various shades of brown and grey. Males assist in feeding the chicks although females involve themselves to a greater extent, making more trips as the chicks get older.

Purple Sunbird feeding on Nectar


Beth said...

What a wonderful bird. Such a lovely colour.

Anonymous said...

nice pictures