Sunbird probing 78 flowers in 5 minutes for nectar

posted in: Feeding-plants, Sunbirds, Videography | 2

SunbirdOB-Firecracker fl

I have a large pot of Firecracker Plants that produces stalks of red flowers (Russelia equisetiformis) as well as yellow flowers (R. equisetiformis ‘Yellow Gold’) (above). Sunbirds love to visit the flowers to harvest the nectar.

SunbirdOB-Firecracker fl

Lately, a female Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarina jugularis) was seen around the plants during mornings as well as evenings. The male on the other hand was interested in the flowers of the Ornamental Banana (Musa ornate) nearby LINK.

I managed to video the sunbird during one of her evening visits for about five minutes. She was busy moving from one flower to another probing her small, slender bill delicately into the flowers to get at the nectar. The above image shows her bill white with pollen.

During the five minutes she was there, she probed a total of 78 flowers (red as well as yellow flowers) or an average of one flowers per 3.8 seconds – a very busy sunbird indeed.

This figure was obtained by slowing down the unedited video clip and counting the number of times the sunbird went from one flower to the other.

YC Wee
Singapore
8th March 2017

2 Responses

  1. Good documentation YC. I did not know that Russelia equisetiformis came in yellow colour.
    Humming birds feed much faster and need to consume 2/3 of body weight each day but feed only for short periods each day (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v320/n6057/abs/320062a0.html).
    Would be good to study total intake and feeding behaviour in a single day.
    Amar

  2. Thanks Amar. Total intake studies will have to be left to the researchers.

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