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18

Purple Sunbird

(Cyrinnis [Nectarinia] asiatica)
Size: 9-10 cm
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Purple Sunbird at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "brevirostris"

ADULT

MALE

BREEDING

Frontal view of a male Purple Sunbird in breeding plumage
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, February 2010]

Male Purple Sunbird, here seen looking sideways
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, February 2010]

Male Purple Sunbird with its tongue sticking out
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, February 2010]

Close-up lateral view of a Purple Sunbird in breeding plumage
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, February 2010]

Male Purple Sunbird in breeding plumage feeding head-down
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, February 2010]

The amazing metamorphosis of a male Purple Sunbird - comparison between breeding plumage (left) and non-breeding plumage (right); hard to believe that these are indeed birds of the same species
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat]

NON-BREEDING

Male Purple Sunbird in transitional plumage, here seen in a prickly acacia
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, January 2010]

In the process sometimes fresh shoots are knocked off the branches
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, January 2010]

Frontal view of a male Purple Sunbird in non-breeding plumage; note the dark central stripe
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Lateral view of a male Purple Sunbird in non-breeding plumage
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Purple Sunbird checking out the photographer
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Male Purple Sunbird in non-breeding plumage seeking shelter in a shady place on a hot day
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Dorsal view of a male Purple Sunbird in non-breeding plumage
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female Purple Sunbird; note the absence of a central dark stripe down its front, which distinguishes it from a male in non-breeding plumage
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, October 2009]

Female Purple Sunbird giving a demonstration of its flexibility; a comparison with the photo above shows that this one has not been accidentally rotated
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, October 2009]

Close-up lateral view of a female Purple Sunbird
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, April 2010]

Llateral view of a female Purple Sunbird, slightly different posture
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, April 2010]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-frontal view of a scruffy-looking, probably juvenile male Purple Sunbird seen in winter (note the emerging dark chin patch which would not be found in a female)
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Lateral view of a juvenile male Purple Sunbird
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Fledgling Purple Sunbird seen in late April; note the orange gape and the prominent supercilium
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, April 2010]

Fledgling Purple Sunbird showing clear signs of suffering from 40+ degree heat
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Feb - Sep(?) Eggs: ? Incubation period: 15 - 17 days Fledging age: ?

Nest building: Female Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

Type: Hanging basket Material: Grass, wool, cobwebs Height above ground: 1.5 - ? m

Close-up view of a Purple Sunbird's nest...
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

... now with one of its occupants keen on getting out
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Behaviour

Male Purple Sunbirds undergo an amazing metamorphosis, changing their plumage between the seasons in a way that renders them unrecognisable.

Direct comparison between breeding plumage (left) and non-breeding plumage (right)
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat]

Food, Diet

To the best of our knowledge Purple Sunbirds feed primarily on nectar. They profit from the creation of urban gardens and parks with flowering plants. Note, however, the birds observed by us poking through algae, which were foraging for insects. Also those seen on acacias did not have any flowers to visit there. Especially during the breeding season, like many other nectar-eating species, they will feed their chicks on insects while they are young. As adults they will occasionally also take insects.

Male Purple Sunbird moulting into its breeding plumage feeding on the flowers of a cactus; first have a look around...
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

... nobody coming from the other side...?
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

... then dig in!
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

Purple Sunbird foraging for insects (aphids?) in an acacia which was not flowering at the time
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

Here some interesting behaviour for a species of nectar eaters: This immature bird has clearly found something to its liking in freshly deposited algae scooped out of an oxygen-poor pond without natural outlet.

Immature Purple Sunbird foraging in algae
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Immature Purple Sunbird poking through algae
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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