Purple sunbird

Cinnyris asiaticus

SUBFAMILY

Nectariniinae

TAXONOMY

Certhia asiatica Latham, 1790, Gurgaon, India. Three subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Souimanga Asiatique; German: Purpurnektarvogel; Spanish: Nectarina Asiática.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

4-4.5 in (10.1-11.4 cm); male 0.24-0.39 oz (6.9-11.0 g), female 0.17-0.35 oz (5-10 g). Medium-sized decurved bill. Male all dark, iridescent during breeding. Female brown and yellow.

DISTRIBUTION

C. a. asiaticus: India south of Himalayas, except northwest and north, and Sri Lanka; C. a. brevirostris: southeastern Oman, southern Iran, Baluchistan, and Pakistan, to western India at Rajasthan and western Gujarat; C. a. intermedius: India in northern Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Assam, and Bangladesh to Indochina and southern Yunnan.

HABITAT

Deciduous forest, thorn-scrub, farmland and gardens up to 7,875 ft (2,400 m) in hills.

BEHAVIOR

Aggressive, active, and noisy. Probes flowers including mistletoes, and catches insects like a flycatcher. In India migrates northwards March through April, returning August through September. Also altitudinal migrant, traveling up after breeding. Migratory in Oman.

Male displays to female with slightly open wings to expose pectoral tufts, raises head and flutters while singing excited "cheewit-cheewit" song.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mistletoe fruits, nectar, grapes, and small insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Clutch of one to three grayish-white, streaked chocolate, eggs laid in oblong, purse-shaped nest made of grass, fibers, leaves, and cobwebs. Nest sometimes decorated with caterpillar droppings, bark, and other debris and is usually suspended. Only female incubates, but both parents feed young. Parasitized by plaintive cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus).

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Has pest status in grape-growing areas of India as it pierces the fruit and sucks out juices. ♦

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