Sunday, March 23, 2014

Amethyst Sunbird female - Maree

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 
Amethyst Sunbird female feeding on the Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) flowers in my garden

I'm always utterly thrilled when these little beauties visit my garden. With all the rain we've had, my Red Hot Pokers have been an absolute magnet for insects and birds and when I hear these sunbirds twittering in my garden I always rush out, sketchbook or camera in hand. The male is pitch black with the most gorgeous metallic throat patch and one could easily miss his inconspicuous little wife perched on the flowers.

The Amethyst Sunbird, also called the Black Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystine) mainly occurs in Africa south of the equator. Its natural habitat is dry savannah but it is extremely fond of gardens.

 It goes out of its way to visit a large clump of nectar-bearing plants. Here in my garden, it feeds on nectar from the Aloe, Kniphofia, Halleria lucida (Tree fuchsia) and a nectar mix in one of my bird feeders. It’s diet is supplemented with insects and often hawks flying insects from the trees or bushes, also gleaning them from leaves and branches. Nectar is obtained either from flowers or from garden feeders, which it uses readily (note that in feeding experiments it was found to prefer sucrose rather than sugar).

This Sunbird is not threatened, in fact its range has increased recently due to the spread of wooded gardens.



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