The sunbirds and spiderhunters make up a family, Nectariniidae, of passerine birds. They are small, slender passerines from the Old World, usually with downward-curved bills. Many are brightly coloured, often with iridescent feathers, particularly in the males. Many species also have especially long tail feathers. Their range extends through most of Africa to the Middle East, South Asia, South-east Asia and southern China, to Indonesia, New Guinea and northern Australia. Species diversity is highest in equatorial regions.
There are 145 species in 16 genera. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but will also eat insects and spiders, especially when feeding their young. Flowers that prevent access to their nectar because of their shape (for example, very long and narrow flowers) are simply punctured at the base near the nectaries, from which the birds sip the nectar. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Their flight is fast and direct, thanks to their short wings.
The sunbirds have counterparts in two very distantly related groups: the hummingbirds of the Americas and the honeyeaters of Australia. The resemblances are due to convergent evolution brought about by a similar nectar-feeding lifestyle. Some sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but they usually perch to feed.
|Sunbirds and spiderhunters|
|♂ Vigors's sunbird from Maharashtra, India|
15, see text
The family ranges in size from the 5-gram black-bellied sunbird to the spectacled spiderhunter, at about 45 grams. Like the hummingbirds, sunbirds are strongly sexually dimorphic, with the males usually brilliantly plumaged in iridescent colours. In addition to this the tails of many species are longer in the males, and overall the males are larger. Sunbirds have long thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding. The spiderhunters, of the genus Arachnothera, are distinct in appearance from the other members of the family. They are typically larger than the other sunbirds, with drab brown plumage that is the same for both sexes, and long, down-curved beaks.
In metabolic behaviour similar to that of Andes hummingbirds, species of sunbirds that live at high altitudes or latitudes will enter torpor while roosting at night, lowering their body temperature and entering a state of low activity and responsiveness.
The moulting regimes of sunbirds are complex, being different in different species. Many species have no eclipse plumage, but do have juvenile plumage. Some species do show duller plumage in the off-season. In the dry months of June−August, male copper sunbirds and variable sunbirds lose much of their metallic sheen. In some instances different populations of the same species can display variation in different molting regimes.
Sunbirds are a tropical Old World family, with representatives in Africa, Asia and Australasia. In Africa they are found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar but are also distributed in Egypt. In Asia the group occurs along the coasts of the Red Sea as far north as Israel, with a gap in their distribution till Iran, from where the group occurs continuously as far as southern China and Indonesia. In Australasia the family occurs in New Guinea, north eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands. They are generally not found on oceanic islands, with the exception of the Seychelles. The greatest variety of species is found in Africa, where the group probably arose. Most species are sedentary or short-distance seasonal migrants. Sunbirds occur over the entire family's range, whereas the spiderhunters are restricted to Asia.
The sunbirds and spiderhunters occupy a wide range of habitats, with a majority of species being found in primary rainforest, but other habitats used by the family including disturbed secondary forest, open woodland, open scrub and savannah, coastal scrub and alpine forest. Some species have readily adapted to human modified landscapes such as plantations, gardens and agricultural land. Many species are able to occupy a wide range of habitats from sea level to 4900 m.
Sunbird are active diurnal birds that generally occur in pairs or occasionally in small family groups. A few species occasionally gather in larger groups, and sunbird will join with other birds to mob potential predators, although sunbirds will also aggressively target other species, even if they are not predators, when defending their territories.
A sunbird that breed outside of the equatorial regions are mostly seasonal breeders, with the majority of these species breeding in the wet season. This timing reflects the increased availability of insect prey for the growing young. Where species, like the buff-throated sunbird, breed in the dry season, it is thought to be associated with the flowering of favoured food plants. Species of sunbird in the equatorial areas breed throughout the year. They are generally monogamous and often territorial, although a few species of sunbirds have lekking behaviour.
The nests of sunbirds are generally purse-shaped, enclosed, suspended from thin branches with generous use of spiderweb. The nests of the spiderhunters are different, both from the sunbirds and in some cases from each other. Some, like the little spiderhunter, are small woven cups attached to the underside of large leaves; that of the yellow-eared spiderhunter is similarly attached but is a long tube. The nests of spiderhunters are inconspicuous, in contrast to those of the other sunbirds which are more visible. In most species the female alone constructs the nest. Up to four eggs are laid. The female builds the nest and incubates the eggs alone, although the male assists in rearing the nestlings. In the spiderhunters both sexes help to incubate the eggs. The nests of sunbirds and spiderhunters are often targeted by brood parasites such as cuckoos and honeyguides.
As nectar is a primary food source for sunbirds, they are important pollinators in African ecosystems. Sunbird-pollinated flowers are typically long, tubular, and red-to-orange in colour, showing convergent evolution with many hummingbird-pollinated flowers in the Americas. A key difference is that sunbirds cannot hover, so sunbird-pollinated flowers and inflorescences are typically sturdier than hummingbird-pollinated flowers, with an appropriate landing spot from which the bird can feed. Sunbirds are critical pollinators for many iconic African plants, including proteas, aloes, Erica, Erythrina coral trees, and bird-of-paradise flowers. Specialization on sunbirds vs other pollinators is thought to have contributed to plant speciation, including the exceptionally high flora diversity in southern Africa.
Overall the family has fared better than many others, with only seven species considered to be threatened with extinction. Most species are fairly resistant to changes in habitat, and while attractive the family is not sought after by the cagebird trade, as they have what is considered an unpleasant song and are tricky to keep alive. Sunbirds are considered attractive birds and readily enter gardens where flowering plants are planted to attract them. There are a few negative interactions, for example the scarlet-chested sunbird is considered a pest in cocoa plantations as it spreads parasitic mistletoes.
The asities are a family of birds, Philepittidae, that are endemic to Madagascar. The asities consist of four species in two genera. The Neodrepanis species are known as sunbird-asities and were formerly known as false sunbirds.Philepitta is now the type-genus of a new bird family, the Philepittidae, into which the Asities of Madagascar have been placed.Beautiful sunbird
The beautiful sunbird (Cinnyris pulchella; formerly placed in the genus Nectarinia) is a sunbird. It is native to tropical Africa, its range extending from Senegal and Guinea in the west to Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya in the east.Cinnyris
Cinnyris is a genus of sunbirds. Its members are sometimes included in Nectarinia. They are generally known as double-collared sunbirds because the fringe of their bib usually includes a band of contrastingly coloured feathers.The sunbirds are a group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed.
The genus was introduced by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1816. The type species was subsequently designated as the splendid sunbird. The name Cinnyris is from the Ancient Greek kinnuris, an unknown small bird mentioned by Hesychius of Alexandria.It is suspected that the genus is polyphyletic and the positions of many are unresolved:The genus contains 56 species:
Olive-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris chloropygius
Tiny sunbird, Cinnyris minullus
Eastern Miombo sunbird, Cinnyris manoensis
Western Miombo sunbird, Cinnyris gertrudis – split from eastern Miombo sunbird
Southern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris chalybeus
Neergaard's sunbird, Cinnyris neergaardi
Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris stuhlmanni
Whyte’s double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris whytei – split from Ludwig's double-collared sunbird
Prigogine's double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris prigoginei
Ludwig's double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris ludovicensis
Northern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris reichenowi
Greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afer
Regal sunbird, Cinnyris regius
Rockefeller's sunbird, Cinnyris rockefelleri
Eastern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris mediocris
Usambara double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris usambaricus – split from eastern double-collared sunbird
Forest double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris fuelleborni
Moreau's sunbird, Cinnyris moreaui
Beautiful sunbird, Cinnyris pulchellus
Loveridge's sunbird, Cinnyris loveridgei
Marico sunbird, Cinnyris mariquensis
Shelley's sunbird, Cinnyris shelleyi
Hofmann's sunbird, Cinnyris hofmanni
Congo sunbird, Cinnyris congensis
Red-chested sunbird, Cinnyris erythrocerca
Black-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris nectarinioides
Purple-banded sunbird, Cinnyris bifasciatus
Tsavo sunbird, Cinnyris tsavoensis - sometimes included in C. bifasciatus
Violet-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris chalcomelas
Pemba sunbird, Cinnyris pembae
Orange-tufted sunbird, Cinnyris bouvieri
Palestine sunbird, Cinnyris oseus
Shining sunbird, Cinnyris habessinicus
Splendid sunbird, Cinnyris coccinigaster
Johanna's sunbird, Cinnyris johannae
Superb sunbird, Cinnyris superbus
Rufous-winged sunbird, Cinnyris rufipennis
Oustalet's sunbird, Cinnyris oustaleti
White-bellied sunbird, Cinnyris talatala
Variable sunbird, Cinnyris venustus
Dusky sunbird, Cinnyris fuscus
Ursula's sunbird, Cinnyris ursulae
Bates's sunbird, Cinnyris batesi
Copper sunbird, Cinnyris cupreus
Purple sunbird, Cinnyris asiaticus
Olive-backed sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis
Apricot-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris buettikoferi
Flame-breasted sunbird, Cinnyris solaris
Souimanga sunbird, Cinnyris sovimanga
Abbott's sunbird, Cinnyris abbotti
Seychelles sunbird, Cinnyris dussumieri
Malagasy green sunbird, Cinnyris notatus
Humblot's sunbird, Cinnyris humbloti
Anjouan sunbird, Cinnyris comorensis
Mayotte sunbird, Cinnyris coquerellii
Loten's sunbird, Cinnyris loteniusCollared sunbird
The collared sunbird, (Hedydipna collaris), is a sunbird. The sunbirds are a group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Collared sunbird is in fact mainly insectivorous.
Sunbird flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time.
The collared sunbird is a common breeder across most of sub-Saharan Africa. Two or three eggs are laid in a suspended nest in a tree. It is a seasonal migrant within its range.
Collared sunbirds are tiny, only 9–10 cm long. They have short thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to nectar feeding.
The adult male has glossy green upperparts and head with a yellow belly and narrow purple breast band. The female is a duller green above and entirely yellow below.
This species is found in forests near water.Crimson sunbird
The crimson sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) is a species of bird in the sunbird family which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding the young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time.
They are also the unofficial national bird of SingaporeGreater double-collared sunbird
The greater double-collared sunbird (Cinnyris afer) (formerly placed in the genus Nectarinia), is a small bird in the sunbird family.Loten's sunbird
The Loten's sunbird, long-billed sunbird or maroon-breasted sunbird, (Cinnyris lotenius) is a sunbird endemic to peninsular India and Sri Lanka. Named after Joan Gideon Loten, who was the Dutch governor of colonial Ceylon, it is very similar to the purple sunbird that is found in the same areas and also tends to hover at flowers for nectar, but can be distinguished by the longer bill, the maroon band on the breast and brownish wings. Like other sunbirds, it is also insectivorous and builds characteristic hanging nests.Mozilla Calendar Project
The Mozilla Calendar Project is the name for the Mozilla project that led to the development of Sunbird calendar application and the Lightning integrated calendar. Sunbird and Lightning are both free software, released under the Mozilla tri-license: the Mozilla Public License, the GNU General Public License and the GNU Lesser General Public License.Mozilla Sunbird
Mozilla Sunbird is a discontinued free and open-source, cross-platform calendar application that was developed by the Mozilla Foundation, Sun Microsystems and many volunteers. Mozilla Sunbird was described as "... a cross platform standalone calendar application based on Mozilla's XUL user interface language." Announced in July 2003, Sunbird was a standalone version of the Mozilla Calendar Project.
It was developed as a standalone version of the Lightning calendar and scheduling extension for the Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey mail clients. Development of Sunbird was ended with release 1.0 beta 1 to focus on development of Mozilla Lightning. As of 2019, the “latest development version” of Sunbird was still 1.0b1 from January 2010, and no later version has been announced. Unlike Lightning, Sunbird does not receive updates to its time zones database anymore.Mrs. Gould's sunbird
The Mrs. Gould's sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae) is a species of bird in the Nectariniidae family.
It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
The Irish ornithologist Nicholas Vigors named the bird after Elizabeth Gould, a British artist and the wife of the naturalist John Gould.Olive-backed sunbird
The olive-backed sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis), also known as the yellow-bellied sunbird, is a species of sunbird found from Southern Asia to Australia.Olive sunbird
The olive sunbird (Cyanomitra olivacea) is a species of sunbird found in a large part of Africa south of the Sahel. It prefers forested regions, and is absent from drier, more open regions such as the Horn of Africa and most of south-central and south-western Africa. It is sometimes placed in the genus Nectarina.
The western subspecies (roughly west of the East African Rift) are sometimes split as the western olive sunbird, Cyanomitra obscura, in which case Cyanomitra olivacea becomes the eastern olive sunbirdPalestine sunbird
The Palestine sunbird (Cinnyris osea) is a small passerine bird of the sunbird family which is found in parts of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also known as orange-tufted sunbird, a name which is also used for the similar orange-tufted sunbird (Cinnyris bouvieri), found further south in Africa. In 2015, it was declared the national bird of Palestine.Pontiac Sunbird
The Pontiac Sunbird is a small car manufactured and marketed by Pontiac over two generations.
The first generation was marketed as a subcompact hatchback, wagon and coupe (1976–1980) — as a badge engineered variant of the Chevrolet Monza, which was based on the Chevrolet Vega.
The second generation (1982–1994) was marketed as notchback coupé, sedan, hatchback, station wagon, and convertible as a rebadged variant of General Motors' J-cars and was manufactured alongside the Cadillac Cimarron, Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Chevrolet Cavalier at GM's South Gate Assembly and Janesville Assembly plants.
The Sunbird nameplate ran for 18 years (with a hiatus during the 1981 and 1982 model years, as the 1982 model was marketed as the J2000) and was replaced in 1995 by the Pontiac Sunfire.Purple-rumped sunbird
The purple-rumped sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica) is a sunbird endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. Like other sunbirds, they are small in size, feeding mainly on nectar but sometimes take insects, particularly when feeding young. They can hover for short durations but usually perch to suck nectar from flowers. They build a hanging pouch nest made up of cobwebs, lichens and plant material. Males are brightly coloured but females are olive above and yellow to buff below. Males are easily distinguished from the purple sunbird by the light coloured underside while females can be told apart by their whitish throats.Purple sunbird
The purple sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) is a small sunbird. Like other sunbirds they feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers. The males appear all black except in some lighting when the purple iridescence becomes visible. Females are olive above and yellowish below.Scarlet-chested sunbird
The scarlet-chested sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) is a species of bird in the Nectariniidae family. It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.Snowbird (person)
"Snowbird" is a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean. Although snowbirds used to be associated with retired or older persons, snowbirds increasingly are of all ages. Many residents in the colder areas of the USA and Canada vacation in warmer southern locations to escape winter weather.
A sunbird is one who leaves the lower latitudes and hot climates of the southern United States and migrates northward in summer to cooler locales such as the high elevation of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming or elsewhere in the Rocky Mountains, the mountains of North Carolina, or Northern New England.Variable sunbird
The variable sunbird (or yellow-bellied sunbird), Cinnyris venustus (formerly Nectarinia venusta), is a sunbird. The sunbirds are a group of small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time.
The variable sunbird is a fairly common resident breeder in equatorial Africa. Two eggs are laid in a suspended nest in a tree. This species is found in open woodland and cultivation.
Variable sunbirds are small, only 10 cm long. They have medium-length thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding.
The adult male has a glossy green head, throat and nape, and a maroon breast band. In most subspecies, the belly of the male is yellow, but in a few it is orange or white. The female has grey-brown upperparts and yellowish underparts, and an obvious pale supercilium. The eclipse male is like the female, but shows some green, especially on the throat. The call is a clear tew-tew-tew-tew-tew .