Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Amethyst sunbird

Chalcomitra amethystina

Photo by Frans Swanepoel (Trek Nature)

Common name:
amethyst sunbird (en); beija-flor-preto (pt); souimanga améthyste (fr); suimanga amatista (es); amethystlangzköpfchen (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Nectarinidae

This species is found in Africa south of the equator, from Kenya and Tanzania through southern DR Congo and Zambia and into South Africa.

Amethyst sunbirds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 13-15 g.

This species generally favours in coastal evergreen forests and mature valley bushveld, but it may also move into drier, more open woodland. It sometimes goes out of its way to visit a large clump of nectar-bearing plants, such as Aloe.

Amethyst subirds are mostly nectivorous, eating the nectar of many different flowers including Aloe, Strelitzia, Salvia, Cestrum, Bauhinia, Eucalyptus, Hibiscus, Protea, Eryrthrina, Knipholia, Schotia, Leonotis, Tecoma capensis, Callistemon viminalis, Greyia sutherlandii, Leucospermum, Combretum, Crotalaria capensis, Halleria lucida, Dalbergia nitidula, Cordyla africana, Faurea speciosa, Baikiaea plurijuga. They also eat flying insects and spiders.

They breed in September-February. The nest is built solely by the female, consisting of an oval-shaped structure built of lichen, grass, stalks and bark cemented with spider web. It is strongly attached to a drooping branch of a tree, bush or creeper usually 2-6 m above ground. The female lays 1-3 grey eggs which she incubates alone for 13-18 days. The chicks are fed mainly by the female, fledging 14-18 days after hatching and becoming independent 1 week after.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be uncommon to abundant, varying between different parts of their range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, and its range may have increased recently due to the spread of wooded gardens.

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