I invite you to take a brief tour through images of this tiny bird.This guy is absent in northern India.I have handpicked images which captures the key features of the bird. By seeing these photos, and reading the tips below, you can get familiar with this bird pretty quickly. However,I encourage you to make your own mental notes of features you find unique and striking.
Photo Courtesy of drcaesarphotography @ Nov 2012
Here is a male bird, taking a break from nectar feeding I guess. He has an ovreall pattern of brownish maroon upper parts. Lower parts are predominated by bright yellow.As you can see, the sides are white.The iridescense is visible on crown and neck.Note the metallic shoulder patches and the red eyes.
Now, you might wonder why the bird is named purple-rumped? Rump can be compared to our lower-back. This region, just above the bird’s tail is covered by its folded wings. So in perching pose, this region is hardly visible.
This is a rare shot where the lovely purple rump is partially visible even in perched position.
Photo Courtesy of Gobi Jagan @ Chennai, Jan 2014
Photo Courtesy of Anton Croos @ Feb 2011
Now, let us take a look at the female. The female sunbirds in general, are dull in color. Dull plumage offers better camouflage and thus protection during nesting.To be frank, all female sunbirds look more or less alike,especially when you see just a flash of the bird among thick leaves and bushes. However, with practice you can distinguish successfully most of the time; yes,even the similar looking ones!
Photo Courtesy of Arthur Chapman @ Kandy,Sri Lanka,Jul,2007
This is the female purple-rumped sunbird.Note her ashy white throat,yellow belly and white sides. Her eyes are red just like the male. Some finer identification marks are the very faint supercilium (“eyebrow”) and faint dark stripe from tip of bill to beyond eye, forming a faint dark tail beyond her eyes.
Photo Courtesy of JayDalal5 @ Nov,2013
Photo Courtesy of Nagesh Kamath @ Masinagudi,Tamil Nadu,Aug,2011
Although by nectar feeding they help to cross-pollinate flowers, they can sometimes pierce the base of the flowers to reach at the nectar, thus by-passing the pollen! However, they play a very important role in the ecosystem as pollinators. In addition to this,they keep the insect populations under check by feeding on insects.
Photo Courtesy of Karunakar Rayker @ Andhra Pradesh,Nov,2008
Do you recognize this tree the bird is visiting? This is the drumstick tree (Moringa Oleifera). This is a relatively small tree found in most houses in small towns and the leaves and immature seed pods are very rich in nutrition.Salim Ali notes in his Book of Indian Birds that the nectar from drumstick tree blossoms is a favorite of the purple-rumped sunbird.
There is no well defined nesting season.Nests may be found in practically every month.The female builds the nest and incubates the eggs alone. Male bird helps in tending for the hatchlings.Juniors from the previous brood may sometimes help in feeding the young.
Photo Courtesy of Arpita Dutta @ Apr,2012
1.The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma Birds By Eugene W. Oates,1889
2.The Book of Indian Birds By Salim Ali,Published by The Bombay Natural History Society,1941
3.Purple-rumped Sunbird page @ Wikipedia