The Olive-backed Sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis, also known as Yellow-bellied Sunbird and formerly Nectarinia jugularis, is an Asian sunbird.
Main features: The smallest Sunbird (11cm), bill thin and obviously decurved; distinctive white tips at outer tail feathers.
Male: Metallic blue-black forehead, throat and upper breast, contrasting with bright yellow underparts; upperparts dull olive brown.
Female: Upperparts dull olive brown; underparts all yellow, brighter yellow than other female Sunbirds.
Breeding: Sunbirds form monogamous pairs. The Olive-backed Sunbirds breed in April-August. They build a hanging flask-shaped nest with an overhanging porch at the entrance, and a trail of hanging material at the bottom end. Materials used include plant fibres, mosses, spider’s web. The nest is lined with soft fluffy seeds (e.g., kapok, lallang grass seeds). The outside of the nest is often untidy and decorated with lichens, dead leaves and seed cases. They usually nest low in bushes and trees, but also close to humans and even in high-rise buildings! 2 greenish-blue eggs with dark brown spots and lines are laid. Males usually don’t help in incubation, but may help out in raising the young.
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. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering[verification needed], but usually perch to feed most of the time.
The Olive-backed Sunbird is common across southern China to the Philippines and Malaysia down to northeast Australia. They are small songbirds, at most 12cm long. The underparts of both male and female are bright yellow, the backs are a dull brown colour. The forehead, throat and upper breast of the adult male is a dark, metallic blue-black.
Originally from mangrove habitat, the Olive-backed sunbird has adapted well to humans, and is now common even in fairly densely populated areas, even forming their nests in human dwellings.
The birds mate between the months of April and August. Both the male and the female assist in building the nest which is flask-shaped, with an overhanging porch at the entrance, and a trail of hanging material at the bottom end.
After building the nest, the birds abandon the nest for about a week before the female returns to lay one or two greenish-blue eggs. The eggs take a further week to hatch. The female may leave the nest for short periods during the day during incubation. After the chicks have hatched, both male and female assist in the care of the young, which leave the nest about two or three weeks later
- Morten Strange, “A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo”, Periplus, 2000 (p. 354: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
Photo Gallery: Olive-backed Sunbird