This Nepal Yellow-backed Sunbird turns around in order to show its side plumage and front feathers to best benefit! We filmed this Sunbird on our drive to eastern Bhutan, just short of Tashigang Dzong...
THE YELLOW-BACKED SUNBIRD
AETHOPYGA SIPARAJA (Raffles)
Description: Length 6 inches, including elongated central pair of tail-feathers 1 inch. Male: Front of crown metallic-green; nape brownish-green; sides of head and neck, back and smaller wing-coverts dull crimson ; rump bright yellow; larger wing-coverts and quills dark brown, the feathers edged with brownish-olive ; tail violet-black, the central pair of feathers and the edges of the others metallic-green; chin, throat and breast bright crimson, a conspicuous moustachial streak metallic-violet; a pale yellowish-white patch under the wing ; abdomen dull greyish-olive.
Female : Upper plumage, including the sides of the head and neck dull olive-green ; wings and tail dark brown, the feathers edged with golden olive and the outer tail-feathers tipped with whitish; the whole lower plumage dull olive-yellow ; a pale yellow patch under "the wing.
The immature male resembles the female but has the chin and throat pinkish-red.
Iris dark brown ; bill blackish-brown, lower mandible horny-brown ; legs chocolate-brown.
The bill is long, slender, curved and sharply-pointed with minute serrations along the cutting edge of both mandibles towards the tip. In the male the tail is graduated, the central pair of feathers exceeding the rest by i inch and being sharply pointed.
Male, scarlet with a yellow rump and olive-grey abdomen and long pointed tail; Female, short-tailed and nondescript olive colour, darker above. Bill sharp, thin and curved. A shy and active forest bird, found feeding at flowers.
The typical race of the Yellow-backed Sunbird is found in Sumatra. In our area we are concerned with four other races. The West Himalayan race (AE, s. mussooriensis) and the East Himalayan race s, seheriae) agree with each other in plumage as described above but the western bird is slightly larger. This is apparently a summer visitor to the outer ranges up to 7000 feet, but is not known to occur west of Dharmsala. M. s. seheriae is found in the Eastern Himalayas at similar elevations and extends also through the greater part of Assam, both in the plains and in the hills up to 7000 feet. It is also found in the Chota Nagpur area. A third race (M. s. miles) with dull grey under parts is said to be found in Nepal. A fourth race (AS. s. vigorsi) is found along the western coast of India from the valley of the Tapti to the foot of the Nilgiris. It is a rather darker race than the others and is more particularly distinguished by having a patch of metallic-violet behind the ear in addition to the moustachial streak and by having the crimson of the under parts finely streaked with yellow. Other races are found in Burma and eastwards.
There are several other Sunbirds of the long-tailed genus AEthopyga which are locally common. The best known are the Nepal Yellow-backed Sunbird (AE. nipalensis) with the whole head and hind neck metallic green and the lower parts yellow flecked with red, and the Black-breasted Yellow-backed Sunbird (AE, saturata), a very blackish-looking Species with violet and blue metallic feathers. Both are common in the Eastern Himalayas and parts of Assam.
Source - http://avis.indianbiodiversity.org
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