Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
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Nectariniidae

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Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum/Division:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Nectariniidae

Description

This is a family of small (10–14 cm) perching birds with long, slender down-curved bills. This family includes sunbirds and spiderhunters. Sunbirds are sexually dimorphic; the males are brightly coloured, with some iridescence to some parts of their plumage. Some males have prominent orange pectoral tufts, which are used for courtship. Others have an eclipse plumage, which looks much like the female. Females are much duller and yellow in colour. Sunbirds mostly live on nectar from flowers although small insects and spiders are also eaten, especially during the breeding season. Sunbirds build a pear-shape nest suspended from the end of a branch, usually 1–3 m from the ground. The entrance is a hole on the side. Some species even build a little eave projecting just above the entrance. There might be a ‘tail’ of scrap leaves hanging from the bottom of the nest. The outside of the nest is usually covered with lichens, dead leaves, caterpillar frass, etc. The nest is made from plant fibres and cobwebs and lined with soft, cottony materials, on which two to three eggs are laid. Seven species of sunbirds have been recorded in Singapore.

Spiderhunters have a very long down-curved bill, which allows them to probe into flowers with deep corolla tubes, in order to reach the nectar deep inside the flowers. As the common name implies, spiderhunters eat spiders and insects to supplement their main diet of nectar. Males have an orange tuft on the sides of the breast, which is used to attract females during courtship. Five species of spiderhunters occur in Singapore.

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