Palestine sunbird / Nectarinia osea / عصفور الشمس الفلسطيني

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Status: Common


The Palestine sunbird is in the Nectariniidae family in the Passerine order. Its 10-11 cm in size and 6-8 grams in weight, and that makes it one of the smallest birds in Palestine. It is part of a big family that spreads across Africa and southern Asia and resembles the Hummingbirds of America by shape and behavior. The male is unmistakable in his bold metallic colors, mainly in the head, back, chest and belly. Under his wings he conceals bright yellow and orange feathers that appear as a burning flame only during the courtship after the female. The female is lacking the colors of the male and its grey in color with a black tail, and therefore can resembles the different Leaf-warbler like the Chiffchaff, although the shape of the long beak should be a sure give away. The Sunbird is adjusted perfectly to obtain the nectar out of the flowers. It got a very long beak that curves downwards together with a very long tongue that splits in the end like a brush. The sunbird shifts its tongue rapidly forwards and backwards while sticking it to the upper part of the beak, this action forms a kind of a funnel the through it the nectar is being sucked. Rarely the Sunbird Hovers like the Hummingbirds, usually it prefers to stand on a branch from which it leans towards the flower. In many cases instead of leaning inside the flower, the sunbird makes a small hole in the side of the flower and "steals" the nectar without repaying the plant by pollinating it. The sunbird braids its nest from small branches and twigs to a shape of a ball with an opening hatch on its side. Inside the nest is softened with soft plants and feathers, and it's usually hanged from branches although occasionally the Sunbird chooses to hang it from balconies and windows. The males have a rich and complex song that they sing from obvious view points. Researchers found that the Sunbirds have many different accents based on their geographical background, even among different neighborhoods in the same town. The Palestine Sunbird is common along the rift valley from Palestine in the north and south through the west coast of the Arab peninsula all the way to Yemen and Oman. In Palestine the Sunbird is a very common resident bird that can be found both in the city area and in villages. In the past the distribution of the Sunbird was restricted to the Arava valley mainly because of the Loranthus acacia plant, a parasite to the acacia trees. This plant has big red flowers that are filled with nectar and attract the Sunbird. Researchers think that the evolution of the sunbirds went hand in hand with the plants of the Loranthus family, while the Sunbird enjoys the sweet nectar of the plant, it also pollinates it and act as its sole pollinator.

Conservation status – least concern.

Migratory behaviour: Resident breeder