Purple Sunbird – our tiny invisible neighbour

Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica) | Order: Passeriforme | Family: Nectariniidae | Size:10 cm

Hindi: Phool Soongni | Bangla: Durga Tuntuni | Marathi: Jhambla Sinjiri, Chumka 

A tiny bird found allover the Indian  subcontinent. Absent in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Feeds mainly on nectar but also take fruits and insects (especially when feeding young). They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird. So, many confuse this with a hummingbird, which doesn’t exist in India.They are seen in pairs or small groups in light deciduous forests, open broadleaf forests, cultivation,  compounds and gardens (especially in gardens with suitable flowers). They have a relatively short bill and a dark and short square ended tail.
They usually makes nests in branches of thorny plants. Being an urban bird, they sometimes uses man made things like wires etc for the nests.

Females are olive brown above with yellowish underside and a blackish tail. There is a pale supercilium beyond the eye. There is a darkish eye stripe. The throat and breast are yellow becoming pale towards the vent. The outer tail feathers are tipped in white both in the male and female. The male is glossy metallic purplish black on the upper parts with the wings appearing dark brown (The males appear all black except in some lighting when the purple iridescence becomes visible). The breeding male has the underparts also of the same purplish black and sometimes show their bright yellow and red pectoral tufts in displays, preening. There is a patch of bright blue on the shoulder of breeding males.The maroon shine on the feathers of the collar around the neck is visible mainly during the breeding seasons. Non breeding male looks like female but have dark wings and a central purple-black strip that runs down to middle of the chest, from throat to belly (Eclipsed form of male purple sunbird).

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