Streaked Spiderhunter catching a spider

So far, we have been posting spiderhunters taking nectar from various flowers. Nothing about the bird taking a spider.


Now, Ender has produced two images of the Streaked Spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna), photographed in February 2008, in the act of picking a spider from its web. This is a classic study of a spiderhunter’s hunting a spider. After all, the bird is so-named because of its reputation in catching spiders – or is it?

R Subaraj, our bird specialist says: “The spiderhunters, I believe, were named following observations of them raiding spider webs. I believe all along that this was to collect the webbing for their nests rather than to catch spiders and that they are primarily nectarivores. It is good if these images actually prove that they also go for spiders!”

Images by Ender.

This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

3 Responses

  1. I am not sure if it’s been tested, but it seems quite a number of web-spinning spiders (especially those which spin orb webs) spin only at night and consume the silk in the morning before hiding during the day. Those webspinning spiders that are active in the day are the larger ones (e.g. Nephila and Argiope spp.) which are probably beyond the capability of smaller spider-eating birds, ‘armoured’ species like Gasteracantha spp., spiders with 3D webs (e.g. Cyrtophora tent spiders) that make it hard for predators to get access to the spider, or spiders with webs that contain much debris to camouflage the animal (e.g. Cyclosa spp.). Having an effective defense against bird (and possibly wasp) predation seems to be a factor in determining webspinning cycles, but it’d be interesting to find out if the link is tenable…

  2. Thanks for the comment, budak. Hopefully there will be others who can add on to what you have written.

  3. […] webs: Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja siparaja); Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis); and Streaked Spiderhunter (Arachnothera […]

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