How many species of Sunbirds in Singapore?
The Crimson Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, and Brown-Throated Sunbird were the first three sunbirds I photographed in Singapore some twenty years ago with slide film. I recently took the stunning Copper-throated Sunbird in Sungei Buloh and the Van Hasselt’s Sunbird at Bukit Batok Nature Park to which I never paid much attention before. How many species of sunbirds in Singapore?
Sunbirds in Singapore and around Southeast Asia.
Sunbirds are small, active, arboreal birds with long curved bills, commonly seen in Singapore in gardens or nature parks. It feeds on nectar and small insects. There are 119 species of sunbirds worldwide, 15 species in Thailand, 13 in Vietnam, 10 in Malay Peninsular, and 10 in Borneo.
Here are the five common species of sunbirds I photographed in Singapore.
1. Olive-backed Sunbird.
Olive-backed Sunbird is the most common that you can find in the garden near flowering plants. A male Olive-backed Sunbird has a metallic blue-black throat.
2. Brown-throated Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird is the second most common species. A male Brown-thoated Sunbird has a dull light-brown throat and a metallic purple shoulder patch. It used to be called Plain-throated Sunbird.
3. Crimson Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird is the national bird of Singapore. It occurs in the edges of the forest, secondary growth, and gardens in rural areas. The male has a crimson mantle, throat, and upper breast. It has a grey belly and iridescent violet crown and tail.
4. Copper-throated Sunbird
Copper-throated Sunbird has a bright iridescent green cap and shoulders with metallic coppery throat and upper breast. It loves the mangrove with coastal vegetation and swamp.
5. Van Hasselt’s Sunbird
It was called the Purple-throated Sunbird but now split into two different species, Purple-throated and Van Hesselt’s. The Van Hasselt’s Sunbird ranges from India to Malay Peninsular to Sumatra and Java (including Singapore). The Purple-throated is in Maratua Island (east of Borneo) and the Philippines. The Van Hasselt’s Sunbird has metallic purple-blue on the nape, rump, and upper tail. An easy place to find Van Hasselt’s Sunbird is near the Saraca tree in full bloom near the forest.
Beyond the 5 species of sunbirds, the 6th species is the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.
Not common in Singapore. It was seen in Pulau Ubin recently in April 2022. Previous records were in 2021 in Pulau Ubin and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird is the sixth species of sunbird found in Singapore.
The rarest of all sunbirds. It was officially recorded in 1986 by Lim Kim Seng at Senoko Island. It has bright olive-green upperparts and drab, grey is olive underpart, with a relatively straight bill, the tail appears square-ended. Since the bird has not sighted for more than 30 years, its’ local residential status is presumed extirpated.