Birds of Uganda – Malachite Sunbird

With it’s equatorial location & sheer abundance of fresh water, the density of wildlife in Uganda can make your head spin. There are (well) over 1000 confirmed bird species in the country alone. And what birds! Some of them look like actual runway models. We have already looked at some stunning starlings & met the Collared Sunbird. Today we meet the Malachite Sunbird (or Nectarinia famosa).
Bright green bird on a green bush

Image of male Malachite Sunbird

Birds of Fashion

Sunbirds are small birds similar to hummingbirds & honeyeaters. They are tiny nectar eaters often with bright iridescent plumage that can fly quickly & hover when feeding. Although similar they are not related, so their similarities are simply convergent evolution. Like most sunbirds, the Malachite Sunbird genders are very different physically. During breeding season the male plumage turns a spectacular metallic green, outside of that season the green is limited to their wings & tail.

Bright green bird in a plant with orange flowers

Image of male Malachite Sunbird from Bernard DUPONT under CC 2.0

Family Ties

Both Malachite Sunbirds help to build their nest & feed their young until fledglings, but females do most of the incubating. Additionally they can be quite aggressive & territorial when nesting, outside of that season they are highly gregarious, forming flocks that can reach over 1000 birds.

Brown bird on a flower

Image of female Malachite Sunbird from Stig Nygaard under CC 2.0

Malachite Lifestyle

Like hummingbirds, sunbirds generally feed mainly on nectar. Although they do supplement with insects, especially when feeding young. The Malachite Sunbird prefers open habitat & are often found in scrubby moorland, forest edges, alpine meadows & gardens.

Bright green bird on a flower

Image of female Malachite Sunbird from Ken and Nyetta under CC 2.0

More Birdwatching

We are excited to embark on this fun new series of posts & can’t wait to share more about the amazing bird species that make up the diverse wildlife of Uganda. Stay tuned for more to come & in the meantime, perhaps you should come visit Uganda & meet some of them for yourself!

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