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Iridescent rainbow Copper-throated sunbirds are one of most fairy-like birds you can find in S’pore

Like a very small sprite.

Ashley Tan | January 14, 03:55 pm

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Singapore and its residents are no stranger to common birds one might spot are mynahs, sparrows or pigeons.

But the trees and green spaces in Singapore hide much greater biodiversity.

You might be surprised to find out though, of some rather tiny hidden gems that inhabit our island.

A tiny fairy in the mangroves

This is a male Copper-throated Sunbird.

Photo courtesy of CY Tan

Measuring around 12 to 14 cm, the gorgeous-looking bird remains inconspicuous in the foliage due to its small size.

If you ever get to see one close up, the sunbird’s plumage is really colourful and it almost resembles some sort of fairy tale creature.

The Copper-throated Sunbird is so named for the males’ distinctive copper-red throat patch, outlined by metallic purplish-blue ombre which extends to the rest of its chest with yellow pectoral tufts.

On top of that, it also has metallic green crown and shoulder patches.

When the light hits it just right, its impressive array of colours is put on full display which helps the male sunbird charms the female sunbird.

Here are some really awesome shots taken by birdwatchers at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve:

copper-throated sunbird
Photo courtesy of Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.
Photo courtesy of CY Tan
Photo courtesy of CY Tan
copper-throated sunbird
Photo courtesy of Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.
copper-throated sunbird
Photo courtesy of Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.

Uncommon residents in Singapore

Copper-throated Sunbirds are considered an uncommon resident here, but can typically be found in mangrove areas such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve or mangrove forests in Pulau Ubin.

Aside from Singapore, these birds can be found mainly in Southeast Asia.

Sunbirds are sexually dimorphic, which means that males and females have vastly differing appearances.

In this case of the Copper-throated Sunbird, the female looks much less flashy and drabber.

Photo by Fran Tabalon via Internet Bird Collection

Other species of sunbirds, such as the Olive-backed Sunbird, are much more common than the Copper-throated, and can typically be seen in residential areas.

Some might recognise them as the ones to build teardrop-shaped nests in our potted plants.

Olive-backed sunbirds build nest at Sengkang family’s potted plant, humans enjoy free science lesson

Sunbirds different from hummingbirds

Although sunbirds might look like hummingbirds, they are not to be confused with the latter.

Hummingbirds are only found in North and South America. However, both have similarly-shaped beaks due to their nectar-feeding lifestyle.

Perhaps try getting a pair of binoculars and head out to our mangroves, and you might spot some of these cute, iridescent birds flitting about.

Some uncommon migrants you might see in S’pore too:

Huge flock of Asian openbills spotted in Changi & Choa Chu Kang on Dec. 22, 2019

Unprecedented sighting of up to 12 rare Himalayan Griffon vultures at Tanjong Pagar, Sentosa & Bukit Panjang

Top photo courtesy of CY Tan

About Ashley Tan

Ashley can't go a week without McDonalds.

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