Sunbirds
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Marico Sunbird L: 12 cm (4·5") The male Marico Sunbird is the only green-hooded, dark-bellied sunbird in Kruger and has two iridescent bands across the upper breast – one deep purple and the other maroon . The female is grey-brown, streaked on the underparts, but lacks the dark throat of the similar female Scarlet-chested Sunbird . Marico Sunbird is a common resident throughout Kruger, feeding on nectar from flowers and hunting insects, using its long, downcurved bill . Sunbirds are small, active birds with long, downcurved bills. Their nests are pendulous structures built exclusively by the females, which also undertake all the incubation. The small green cuckoos, Klaas’s and sometimes Diederik Cuckoo (pages 90–91), occasionally parasitize sunbirds, laying eggs in their nests. Sunbirds are the ecological equivalent of hummingbirds, surviving mostly on nectar and invertebrates, with the latter being particular popular when protein is required for fast-growing chicks. Sunbirds: 1 male female 144 Scarlet-chested Sunbird L: 14 cm (5·5") A large, fast-moving, dark sunbird with a slim, curved bill . The very distinctive male is glossy velvet-black with a striking scarlet chest and a glossy green moustache . The female is grey-brown, heavily streaked underneath, with streaking becoming so dense that it becomes a black patch on the throat . This species is a common resident throughout Kruger, although there can be influxes when nectar is locally abundant . The calls are a loud series of piping “tip” and “teeeuw” notes . BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS male female nion-breeding male 145 Collared Sunbird L: 10 cm (4") A tiny, short-billed, green-backed, yellowbellied sunbird . The male has a green throat and narrow purplish breast-band, whereas the female is duller with a yellow throat and lacks a breast-band . This species is a common resident throughout Kruger in lush savannah and riverine forest fringes . Although it eats more insects than other sunbirds, it is also an adept nectarparasite , using its short bill to pierce the base of flowers and steal nectar without fulfilling the role of pollinator . Sunbirds: 2 male female Although there is a high diversity of sunbird species in Africa, occurring in a wide range of habitats, current understanding is that the family evolved in Asia and then spread to Africa. Although sunbirds are superficially similar to the unrelated hummingbirds (which occur only in the Americas), they cannot hover perfectly. However, if there is nowhere for them to perch, some species can remain stationary in the air for long enough to feed off nectar or catch insects or spiders. 146 White-bellied Sunbird L: 11 cm (4·5") A small sunbird with a long, curved bill . The male has iridescent blue-green upperparts and head, a bold white belly and a broad, purplish breast-band . The female is uniformly grey-brown above and pale-grey below . This sunbird is a common and widespread resident throughout Kruger, but can also be nomadic in response to seasonal nectar sources . It is, however, easily dominated by larger sunbirds . BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS male female Sunbirds have thin, downcurved bills and long, tubular, brush-tipped tongues – adaptations for feeding on nectar. The frayed edges to the tongue enable the bird to‘suck’nectar from flowers using capillary action, and by repeatedly inserting and extracting the tongue this acts as a pump. The songs of White-bellied Sunbirds sometimes include mimicry of Dark-capped Bulbul, Rattling Cisticola or other birds, although the reason for this is unknown. 147 ...


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