Male Loten’s Sunbird

Male Loten's Sunbird with spider in its mouth
Male Loten's Sunbird with spider in its mouth

I found this male Loten’s Sunbird in my garden the other day with spider in its mouth. The Loten’s Sunbird or Long-billed Sunbird, Cinnyris lotenius (formerly placed in the genus Nectarinia), is one of a group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar. Sunbirds will also take insects, especially when feeding young and Loten’s Sunbird is possibly more insectivorous than other sympatric species. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings.

Male Loten's Sunbird
Male Loten's Sunbird

Long bill separates this from the sympatric Purple Sunbird. The wings are browner and the maroon breast band is visible on the male under good lighting. The call is distinctive and they are also very active often bobbing their head while foraging.

The song of the male is a long repeated wue-wue-wue… with the last notes accelerated. The males may sing from the tops of bare trees or telegraph wires. Loten’s Sunbird is a resident breeder that is locally common in forest and cultivation in India and Sri Lanka. Two eggs are laid in a suspended nest in a tree. The bag of webs, bark and caterpillar frass.

Loten’s Sunbirds are small, only 12-13 cm long. They have long down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding. The bill lengths vary across populations with long bills found on the east of Peninsular India and in Sri Lanka.

The adult male is mainly glossy purple with a grey-brown belly. It is similar to Purple Sunbird, but is larger, has a longer sickle-shaped bill, and a different belly colour.

The eclipse male has yellow-grey upperparts, darker than Purple Sunbird, and a yellow breast with a blue central streak extending to the belly. The existence of an eclipse plumage in the adult male has however been questioned. The female has yellow-grey upperparts and yellowish underparts, but lacks Purple’s faint supercilium. The call is a buzzy zwick zwick.

Found only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. The main region is along the Western Ghats and into the southern peninsula. There are scattered records from central India and into the northern Eastern Ghats near Orissa. Race hindustanicus is found in India while the nominate race is found in Sri Lanka.

EXIF info - Aperture : ƒ/5.6 | Camera : Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Taken : 25 May, 2009 | Flash fired : no | Focal length : 400mm | ISO : 400 | Location : 13° 4′ 2.1226800052652″ N 74° 59′ 44.475360121304″ E | Shutter speed : 1/320s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.
EXIF info - Aperture : ƒ/5.6 | Camera : Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Taken : 25 May, 2009 | Flash fired : no | Focal length : 400mm | ISO : 400 | Location : 13° 4′ 2.1226800052652″ N 74° 59′ 44.475360121304″ E | Shutter speed : 1/320s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.

12 thoughts on “Male Loten’s Sunbird

  1. Thanks to you, now i clearly identify the birds in my house..The Male and female Loten sunbird have built a beautiful nest on our clothesline in the balcony.This is the second time, it had built its nest last year in the same place.
    It seems to have adjusted to us even if we go too close to it(the female loten sunbird sitting in the nest) it doesn’t fly away..
    The male used to come only when the female was building a nest, its only the female that now resides in the nest.
    There’s another one too i.e. a red whiskered bulbul that built a nest(like a pouch) but never returned to its nest after a huge black bird(which i suspect is a koel) visited its nest.

  2. Dear Ashlesha,
    Glad to hear that my article was useful to you. Thanks for visiting my site. Keep coming back
    Regards
    Krishna Mohan

  3. I am interested in breeding sunbirds ( since hummingbirds do not exist here ) and then selling a complete package to a customer profile where they are kept in open and will add more to nature.
    Have no previous experience in birds and bird watching but I am sure that I will be able to sell my concept.
    Please let me know whether this is possible and that the law will allow it.
    I shall be grateful.

  4. Dear Eric Bakhtawar,
    I am sorry to say that I have no experience in breeding birds. Law is sort of silent as sunbirds come under least threatened category. But you will have to check with law authorities regarding breeding these wild birds. I have not seen them as pets any where here.
    Regards
    Krishna mohan

  5. Hi Krishna,
    I found this blog when I was searching if Hummingbirds are in India or not.
    Currently I am in USA and I do like to watch Hummers havering at my feeder filled with sugar water.
    Wondering Sunbird can also feeds on feeders if filled with sugar water? And also in what parts of India they found.
    Would appreciate for your reply.
    Thanks,
    Aparna

  6. Thanks for visiting my website and writing to me. We don’t have Humming Birds in India, but Sunbirds behave almost exactly. We can use feeders and they do get attracted to them. Not as much as in America as Hummers are conditioned to artificial feeding. Here In India we don’t usually use bird feeders except throwing seeds at pigeons ;-). Sunbirds are found throughout India with no exception.

  7. We just started seeing these sunbirds in our neighborhood in the last month (feb/mar 2014). This is in the middle of Hyderabad city. Lovely birds, beautiful singing. Do you know why this new migration?
    Thank you for an informative website.

Leave a Comment

Share