Variable sunbird

Variable sunbird
Nectarinia venustus

Photo by Jim Watt (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
variable sunbird (en); beija-flor-de-barriga-amarela (pt); souimanga à ventre jaune (fr); suimanga variable (es); ziernektarvogel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Nectariniidae

This species is patchily distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, with subspecies N.v. venustus being found from Senegal east to northern Cameroon and western Central African Republic, while the remaining for subspecies occur from southern Sudan and Eritrea, south to Tanzania, and through southern D.R. Congo and Zambia, into Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

These birds are 10-11 cm long and weigh 5-10 g.

The variable sunbird is mostly found in dry savannas and dry scrubands, but alsouse a wide range of other habitats such as grasslands, rainforests, mangroves, rivers and streams, and man-made habitats including pastures, arable land, plantations, rural gardens and urban areas.

They feed mainly on nectar, but also take adult and larval insects, especially during the breeding season.

Variable sunbirds breed all year round, possibly with some variation among different parts of their range. The nest is built mainly by the female,  consisting of an oval-shaped structure made of fine grass stems and blades, fibres, rootlets, leaves and flower heads bound together with spider web. It is often camouflaged with large bits of material, and lined with plant down and other fine plant materials. The nest is typically placed in a tall weed or small sapling, or occasionally in a deserted building. The female lays 1-2 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-16 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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